Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Cincinnati

If Cincinnati isn’t on top of your list of places to visit, reconsider! This is a vibrant, bustling city along the banks of the Ohio River with an abundance of attractions to enjoy. There are festivals, parks, museums, and historical sites to explore. Plus, you will definitely eat and drink well (Cincy is also well known for its eighty-plus breweries).

Whether you have just a weekend or a longer stay in mind, the city will have plenty to keep you busy. Here, you’ll learn the details on 10 cool things to do in Cincinnati, as well as tips to make planning and paying for your trip that much easier.

Ready to explore the best things to do in Cincinnati? Read on.

Best Times to Go to Cincinnati

Cincinnati has warm summers that typically don’t get scorchingly hot, as well as reasonably temperate spring and fall seasons. Those can be the prime seasons to visit.

Located in the southwest corner of Ohio, winters can be warmer than Ohio towns and cities further north, but they can get quite cold, snowy, and icy. In general, April through October is the best time, weather-wise, to plan a trip.

If you enjoy attending festivals, Cincinnati has plenty in the summer and early fall. So, choose ones of interest and plan accordingly. Some of the more popular festivals include:

•   Oktoberfest oktoberfestzinzinnati.com/

•   Cincinnati Music Festival www.cincymusicfestival.com/

•   Bunbury Music Festival bunburyfestival.com/

•   BLINK, a light and art festival in October blinkcincinnati.com/

If sports games are more your thing, check the schedules of the Cincinnati Reds MLB team and the Bengals NFL teams — or one of the many played by students at the University of Cincinnati.

If these fun things to do in Cincinnati have captured your attention, you may want to decide where to keep a travel fund and start saving.

Bad Times to Go to Cincinnati

You’ve already read that winters can be, well, wintery and perhaps not the best time to visit. If you’d like to walk around and enjoy the sights, you may be put off by the low temperatures and how roads can be snow clogged and slippery during that season.

Also, Cincinnati can experience traffic congestion, especially downtown. Hectic times can include opening days for the sports teams or when a big game is about to be played — or during an in-demand festival. So if you’re not planning to attend any of these events, consider avoiding those dates when downtown is likely to be especially crowded.

Also investigate the status of the bridge over the Ohio River that connects Cincinnati, Ohio to Kentucky. When there is bridge construction or people are traveling to Kentucky in higher numbers, traffic can get backed up into downtown Cincinnati.

Average Cost on a Cincinnati Vacation

On average, a trip to Cincinnati costs a solo traveler $146 a day or $1,025 weekly. Plenty of factors impact the price, however. If driving, gas prices play a role. If flying, knowing how to get cheap flights can reduce your costs.

Hotels range from budget inns to luxurious lodging with in-demand amenities and luxury add-ons, and restaurants can be quick bites at a fast food establishment or an indulgent meal at a steakhouse.

What you choose will of course affect the prices. To help with financial planning, consider your credit card rewards and how you can leverage them to splurge.

If some of things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio for couples catch your eye, know that an average Cincy hotel price for two is $163. Knowing how to save money on hotels can help to cut back the average weekly cost of $2,050 for two.

10 Fun and Affordable Must-Dos in Cincinnati

Cincinnati is an intriguing city with highly enthusiastic sports fans alongside those who have a passion for art and culture (and those who love both!). Not surprisingly, then, the things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio are quite diverse: art, nature, and history venues as well as dining, shopping — and even world-class amusement park experiences.

Here, you’ll find a list of 10 fun things to do in Cincinnati, gathered from top-ranking online reviews as well as city-smart travelers.

1. Visit the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Founded in 1873, this highly rated zoo is the second-oldest one in the United States. Although the initial collection of animals was quite small (including a talking crow), today’s zoo will introduce you to gibbons, gorillas, lemurs, manatees, hippos, and more. An international leader in wildlife conservation, this zoo is now one of the country’s largest and can be a terrific place to spend some time while in Cincinnati. cincinnatizoo.org/

2. Tour a Massive Museum

The Cincinnati Art Museum is one of the oldest in the country — and quite large with more than 67,000 pieces of art that span 6,000 years of creativity. The collection ranges from African and East Asian art to contemporary American works, European sculptures, musical instruments, and so much more. cincinnatiartmuseum.org/

3. Take a Walk in the Park

After touring the art museum, step outside! You’ll find yourself in Eden Park with the Hinkle Magnolia Garden, Mirror Lake, walking paths, eye-catching sculptures, playgrounds, and more. The grounds are also home to the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Krohn Conservatory, outdoor concerts — and an incredible view of the Ohio River with Kentucky located just on the other side. This can be a great place to spend a couple of hours if you’re traveling with a pet, plus it’s a free thing to do in Cincinnati. cincinnati-oh.gov/cincyparks/visit-a-park/find-a-parkfacility/eden-park/

4. Appreciate More Art

The Taft Art Museum is a terrific journey back in time. Housed in an 1820 National Historic Landmark that’s a treat to visit, the art collection includes French Renaissance enamels, Chinese porcelain, European and American paintings, and more. You’ll view works by Rembrandt, Goya, Whistler, and other prominent artists. taftmuseum.org/

5. Go for a Ride

When looking for fun things to do in Cincinnati, put Kings Island on the list! There are big-time roller-coaster adventures plus three dozen water slides. If you’re traveling with children, there are thrills for the smaller set, such as the Planet Snoopy kiddie rides. Plus, you’ll find plenty of mouthwatering in-park dining options along with quality live entertainment to applaud.

Look for coupons online or check with your hotel’s concierge; discounts can be a way for families to afford to travel. visitkingsisland.com/

6. Immerse Yourself in History

Located near the banks of the Ohio River — a geographic feature that once divided states where slavery was legal from those where it wasn’t — the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center contains permanent and traveling exhibits. Visitors will learn about this challenging time in history and the heroes of the Underground Railroad. freedomcenter.org

Across the street, there’s a sign spelling “Cincinnati” in script with plenty of people taking selfies there before they go.

7. Watch a Baseball Game

Also located by the Ohio River, this is the stadium for America’s first professional baseball franchise, the Cincinnati Reds. So, if in town on a game day, buy tickets! You’ll walk by a statue of the Hall of Fame baseball catcher, Johnny Bench, and can visit the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum to celebrate the glory days of the Big Red Machine and more. Plenty of exhibits exist, including interactive ones, and players sometimes schedule personal appearances. mlb.com/reds/ballpark

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8. Stroll Around an Arboretum

Although cemeteries aren’t typically on a vacation list, Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is one of only two historic cemeteries to achieve Level III arboretum standards. Its stunning gardens focus on Midwest natives along with non-indigenous species with a focus on demonstrating the “vital relationship that exists between plants and people.” springgrove.org/arboretum/

9. Get Acquainted with an Aquarium

From white alligators to stingrays to penguins, the award-winning Newport Aquarium offers unique views of thousands of types of exotic aquatic life, along with amazing interactive adventures. Cross the world’s first rope bridge above a tank full of sharks, explore a sunken ship at “Shipwreck: Realm of the Eels,” and much more. newportaquarium.com/

10. Eat Well (Really Well)

If you are looking for delicious things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio, for couples or a family, stop by the Findlay Market. This is the state’s oldest surviving municipal market house. A huge range of good eats are available; if one of you is vegan and the other isn’t, no problem! There is something for everyone here: pho, arepas, BBQ, and more. Maybe take one of the market’s walking tours so you don’t miss anything. findlaymarket.org/

A Note About Getting Around

Although it’s not totally true that all of Cincinnati attractions are located downtown, many of them are. So, keep that in mind while engineering your itinerary for each day and when seeking convenient lodging.

•   If you want to avoid highly trafficked places to stay, spread out from the downtown area when looking for options, perhaps into Kentucky.

•   Although most attractions are open year round, check to ensure the ones you want stay open through the winter.

•   Consider the streetcar with its eighteen downtown stops if you’d like to see key places without having to drive.

•   If the attractions you want to see are quite far apart, you might look into renting a car to make sure you hit all the highlights.

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The Takeaway

Fun things to do in Cincinnati take place throughout the year, depending upon your interests. Plenty of options exist for people who love art, nature, sports, music, food, and much more. Most festivals take place in summer and early fall, while football fun extends the fun of visiting further into the year. Whether you are traveling solo, with friends, or with family, you are likely to have more top things to do in Cincinnati than you can pack into a single trip.

Whether you want to travel more or get a better ROI for your travel dollar, SoFi can help. SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members that lets you budget, plan, and book your next trip in a convenient one-stop shop. SoFi takes the guessing game out of how much you can afford for that honeymoon, family vacation, or quick getaway — and we help you save too.


SoFi Travel can take you farther.

FAQ

What foods is Cincinnati famous for?

Chili! A Greek family brought its special recipes to the United States in 1949, and its been loved by Cincinnati residents and visitors ever since. This is also the city for beer lovers with its eighty-plus breweries and nightlife spots. Need a third one? Ice cream!

Is Cincinnati in two states?

Although you may hear portions of Kentucky and Indiana referred to as part of the greater Cincinnati metro area, the actual city lies within the geographical boundaries of just one state: Ohio.

Can you walk in downtown Cincinnati?

Yes! Cincy is a walkable city, and it isn’t unusual to see significant numbers of people strolling by on the sidewalks as well as in parks and other venues.


Photo credit: iStock/pawel.gaul

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

**Terms, and conditions apply: The SoFi Travel Portal is operated by Expedia. To learn more about Expedia, click https://www.expediagroup.com/home/default.aspx.
When you use your SoFi Credit Card to make a purchase on the SoFi Travel Portal, you will earn a number of SoFi Member Rewards points equal to 3% of the total amount you spend on the SoFi Travel Portal. Members can save up to 10% or more on eligible bookings.
Eligibility: You must be a SoFi registered user.
You must agree to SoFi’s privacy consent agreement.
You must book the travel on SoFi’s Travel Portal reached directly through a link on the SoFi website or mobile application. Travel booked directly on Expedia's website or app, or any other site operated or powered by Expedia is not eligible.
You must pay using your SoFi Credit Card.

SoFi Member Rewards: All terms applicable to the use of SoFi Member Rewards apply. To learn more please see: https://www.sofi.com/rewards/ and Terms applicable to Member Rewards.
Additional Terms: Changes to your bookings will affect the Rewards balance for the purchase. Any canceled bookings or fraud will cause Rewards to be rescinded. Rewards can be delayed by up to 7 business days after a transaction posts on Members’ SoFi Credit Card ledger. SoFi reserves the right to withhold Rewards points for suspected fraud, misuse, or suspicious activities.
©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).


SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting New York City

New York City is one of America’s most iconic locations. With landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, the energy of Broadway, and the allure of world-class museums and shopping, there’s plenty to experience. Whether you’re planning to visit for a few days or a few weeks, you probably want to make sure you see as many cool things as possible when in town.

That’s where this list can help. You’ll find 10 cool things to do in New York City, plus smart advice on making your trip as affordable and enjoyable as possible. This list, culled from travelers’ reviews, guides, and native New Yorkers, will help you have a magical time in this exciting town.

Best Times to Go to New York City

Many people feel that spring and fall are the best times to go to New York City. The weather is mild, so you can easily toggle between indoor and outdoor activities. November through December time is also a popular time to visit New York. There are many holiday events and decorations to see, like the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center or the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes, as well as winter markets at various parks where you can find great gift items while drinking hot cocoa.

Bad Times to Go to New York City

Summer travel to New York City is popular, so you’re more likely to find crowds. Factor in the possibility of high heat and humidity, and perhaps you may want to think twice if that doesn’t appeal and your schedule allows for flexibility.

Winter (after the holidays, that is) is a time that many people avoid New York City. Yes, it can be cold, but there’s a silver lining. If you’re looking for how to save money on hotels while in NYC, the best time to go would be between January through March. There will be fewer people vying for hotel rooms, so rates are likely to be lower. You can still get your fill of great restaurants, shopping, shows, and museums.

Average Cost of a New York City Vacation

If you’re visiting New York City for the first time, you’ll probably want to stay in Manhattan versus in one of the other boroughs, to be closer to most of the celebrated attractions. However, Manhattan can be expensive, so if you’re looking to save money, you could also look at staying in another borough, like Brooklyn, which is becoming a destination in its own right.

Hotel prices will also vary a lot within Manhattan based on your location, date of visit, and quality of hotel. You can find hotels for anywhere from $150 to $550 per night in Manhattan.

When budgeting for a trip to New York City, don’t forget to include things like:
Food, whether that’s an omakase menu at a Japanese place or a pretzel from a street vendor, plus drinks
Entertainment. Perhaps you’ll see a Broadway show, visit museums, or stop by a comedy club. Factor those in.
Transportation. New York City is a very walkable town, but distances can be significant. Make sure you have funds for taxis, Ubers, and bus and subway rides. Don’t overlook the city’s ferry system either; you can get great skyline views traveling by boat.

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A Few Notes on Financing Your Trip

A New York trip can be pricey, so heed this advice:

•   When planning your New York City vacation, be wary of “book now, pay later” travel options. Those can lead you to rack up significant debt. To save money on interest, you should try to save up for at least some of your expenses ahead of time.

•   Make sure to do your research on where to keep a travel fund. An interest-bearing savings account can earn you some extra cash towards your trip.

•   If you’re thinking about booking a trip to New York City (or anywhere, actually), look into travel insurance. You could get sick right before your departure, your luggage could get lost, and other unforeseen circumstances could crop up. If you pay for your trip with certain credit cards, they may provide travel insurance for certain situations. You should understand how credit card travel insurance works when deciding whether to purchase private travel insurance.

10 Fun Must-Dos in New York City

If you’re planning a trip, it can be difficult to narrow the list down to only 10 top things to do in New York. Here are cool highlights mostly for a tourist who is new to New York City, but there are some things on the list that you may not have been to before even if it’s not your first visit. Most attractions and events are in Manhattan, since that’s where most tourists stay. However, you will see a few options in other boroughs. Also, New York City can be expensive, so note the free activities and sites included in the list.

A couple of quick notes:

•   New York City is one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the United States, so you likely won’t need to think about renting a car. You can visit most sites and attractions by walking or taking the subway or a taxi.

•   You’ll find that NYC can also be a great city if you’re traveling with pets. You can walk your dog in Central Park or down any sidewalk without issues.

The following are recommendations for the top 10 fun things to do while visiting New York City.

1. Explore Central Park

Central Park is one of the most famous parks in America. It offers much-needed green space to the city, with a zoo, playgrounds, fountains, monuments, bridges, sculptures, walking/running paths, a boat pond and boathouse, an ice-skating/roller-skating rink, and more. Plus, there are many events, concerts, and activities that happen year-round in Central Park. Central Park is free, and is open from 6 am to 1 am.

2. See the Skyscrapers

Skyscrapers are part of what makes New York City so famous. The Empire State Building was considered the world’s tallest building when it opened in 1932. It’s no longer the tallest, but it’s still a world-famous attraction. Located in midtown Manhattan, it’s been seen in countless movies and TV shows. And from that high up, you get an incredible view of this iconic city.

Ticket prices for this attraction can be pricey. Visiting the main 86th-floor open-air observatory cost $38 to $44. You can also get a ticket that will also allow you to go all the way up to the 102nd floor observation deck for $73 to $79. One way to make the price feel a bit less steep: Get cash back when you charge your tickets thanks to credit card rewards. esbnyc.com/

Other places to take in a great view: The Edge NYC (edgenyc.com/en) at Hudson Yards, Summit One Vanderbilt (summitov.com/) in Midtown, and One World Observatory (oneworldobservatory.com/) downtown.

3. Scoot over to the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, all 305 feet of it, is a copper-clad neoclassical statue that is perhaps one of the most iconic symbols of freedom and welcome in the world. You can visit the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island by taking a ferry from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Plan on devoting several hours to exploring this celebrated artwork.

Tickets cost $19 to $31.50 and include a round-trip ferry ride, access to the grounds of the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, the Statue of Liberty Museum, and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum on Ellis Island. If you want to go inside the monument, you’ll have to purchase a ticket that includes “Pedestal Access.” These tickets cost $25.30 to $31.80. nps.gov/stli/planyourvisit/fees.htm

You can also view the Statue of Liberty for free from The Battery.

4. Discover the Heart of Midtown Manhattan

Architecture fans will delight in Rockefeller Center, a fantastic collection of Art Deco buildings in Midtown Manhattan with a plaza, a skating rink, sculptures, NBC Studios, stores, and restaurants. If you ever watched 30 Rock or the tree get lit during the holiday season, you are probably familiar with it. It can be a fun place to explore or simply grab some coffee and do some window-shopping.

You can get tickets for a tour of Rockefeller Center ($27) or to go to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck ($34 to $40). Nearby is the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Saks Fifth Avenue’s original store, and Bryant Park. rockefellercenter.com/

5. Visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum honors the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The memorial features twin reflecting pools where the World Trade Center’s twin towers once stood. The museum includes poignant multimedia displays, artifacts, and real recordings from the day, giving visitors a chance to contemplate the tragic events and remember the losses endured.

The museum is open Wednesdays through Mondays from 9 am to 7 pm. Tickets to the museum cost $17 to $29, and tours are available. 911memorial.org/

6. Stroll Along the High Line

Here’s another of the best things to do in New York: Walk the High Line, a 1.5-mile pedestrian walkway and park that’s been constructed along an abandoned elevated rail track. It’s now beautifully landscaped with lush, naturalistic plantings, and you’ll also see artworks on display as you stroll along. In addition, you’ll pass through several Manhattan neighborhoods, winding from Hudson Yards through Chelsea to the Meatpacking District, above the traffic. The High Line, which is open from 7am to 10pm, is free to enter, which can help be a way for families to afford to travel. thehighline.org/visit/

It can be a fun detour to descend from the High Line in Chelsea and visit some of the art galleries that the neighborhood is known for. Or, at the southern end of the High Line, take a brief walk to Little Island, a new public park that’s actually in the Hudson River (littleisland.org/).

7. Be Amazed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (also known as “the Met”) is a vast trove of masterpieces from around the world. Whether you’d like to see some Tiffany stained glass, Dutch landscapes, Medieval armor, or ancient sculptures, you’ll find it at the Met. You may not be able to see everything in one day, but even if you only have a couple of hours free, it’s worth a visit. It’s located on the Upper East Side, at the edge of Central Park, and its grand front steps are where many locals and tourists alike enjoy sitting in good weather.

Tickets to the Met cost $17 to $30; kids under age 12 are free. If you’re a resident of New York State or are a student in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, you have the option to “pay what you wish” for your tickets. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm, except for Wednesdays and a few holidays. metmuseum.org/

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8. See a Broadway Show

Some would say a trip to New York City is not complete without seeing a Broadway show. Whether that means a long-running hit, like The Lion King, Hamilton, or Chicago, or something brand new, the excitement of live theater makes for a signature NYC experience. Broadway is located near Times Square and houses theaters with many plays and musicals. Shows rotate, and ticket prices vary drastically depending on the show, day, and seat. broadway.com/

There are dozens of great restaurants nearby that cater to the pre-theater crowds and will get you in and out on time for your curtain. Picking where you want to eat can be a fun challenge, and a great way to enjoy dinner and a show.

9. Get Acquainted with a Big City Garden

Although not located in Manhattan, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is an expansive and beautiful park with unique plants, conservatories, and events. There are 13 gardens within the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, including the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden with cherry blossoms that peak during April of each year, as well as a Shakespeare Garden.

Tickets cost $12 to $18. The Garden is closed on Mondays, and hours vary depending on the time of year, so check the website before going. bbg.org/visit

Or head to the Bronx and visit the New York Botanical Garden. It has a magnificent Victorian-style conservatory, forests, a gorge, and flowers (including an award-winning rose garden) on 250 acres, making it America’s largest city garden. Admission for adults is $35 for an all-garden pass, including a tram tour; the garden is typically open from 10 am to 6 pm, except on Mondays. nybg.org/visit/admission/

10. Find a Food Hall

Of course, you’ll eat well while in NYC. One fun way to get a taste of city life is to visit one of Manhattan’s fun spaces full of food stalls. These range from the Tin Building (everything from egg sandwiches to caviar) downtown by South Street Seaport, Essex Market (bagels, kebabs, Peruvian fare, and more) on the Lower East Side, Chelsea Market (from crepes to tacos) in the Chelsea neighborhood, UrbanSpace NYC (multiple locations with dumplings, pizza, ramen, among other delights), and Midtown’s Urban Hawker, with Singaporean food.

The Takeaway

New York City is a travel destination that few people can resist. This high-energy city has something to offer almost anyone, whether you’re interested in shows, shopping, food, art, or (surprise!) parks and gardens. If it’s your first visit or your seventh, you’ll find dozens of fun things to do in New York City that can make for an incredibly memorable trip.

SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members. Through a partnership with Expedia, we make it easy to find the lowest rates and book your reservations — for flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, and more — all in one place. Earn 2x rewards when booking with your SoFi Mastercard or debit card. And when you redeem your SoFi rewards for travel, you get a 25% bonus: $100 of reward points are worth $125.


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FAQ

What free things can I do in New York?

There are plenty of free things to do in New York. In addition to special free events, you can walk on the High Line, check out Times Square, or take a walk through Central Park.

What should I do on my first trip to New York?

If you have never been to New York City before, seeing such iconic sites as Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty can be worthwhile.

What are some things to do in New York when you’ve been before?

If you have been to New York City before, you may have visited the major tourist sites already. Some lesser-known things to do in New York include visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or New York Botanical Garden, taking a food tour, riding the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram, and checking out Queens Museum. You might also explore Williamsburg, a popular Brooklyn neighborhood, or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.


Photo credit: iStock/bloodua

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

**Terms, and conditions apply: The SoFi Travel Portal is operated by Expedia. To learn more about Expedia, click https://www.expediagroup.com/home/default.aspx.
When you use your SoFi Credit Card to make a purchase on the SoFi Travel Portal, you will earn a number of SoFi Member Rewards points equal to 3% of the total amount you spend on the SoFi Travel Portal. Members can save up to 10% or more on eligible bookings.
Eligibility: You must be a SoFi registered user.
You must agree to SoFi’s privacy consent agreement.
You must book the travel on SoFi’s Travel Portal reached directly through a link on the SoFi website or mobile application. Travel booked directly on Expedia's website or app, or any other site operated or powered by Expedia is not eligible.
You must pay using your SoFi Credit Card.

SoFi Member Rewards: All terms applicable to the use of SoFi Member Rewards apply. To learn more please see: https://www.sofi.com/rewards/ and Terms applicable to Member Rewards.
Additional Terms: Changes to your bookings will affect the Rewards balance for the purchase. Any canceled bookings or fraud will cause Rewards to be rescinded. Rewards can be delayed by up to 7 business days after a transaction posts on Members’ SoFi Credit Card ledger. SoFi reserves the right to withhold Rewards points for suspected fraud, misuse, or suspicious activities.
©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Miami

Sure, you could spend an entire Miami vacation just relaxing on the beach, people-watching, and sipping cold drinks.

But there’s so much to explore in the Magic City, you also could build an almost limitless list of fun things to do in Miami. In fact, you may have trouble narrowing it all down to a manageable itinerary of absolute must-sees — whether you’re visiting on your own, as a couple, or with friends or family.

You could have an amazing time just focusing on bucket-list items, like going to Little Havana or strolling the Miami Beach Boardwalk. Or you might use your time to take in Miami’s renowned architecture or to go shopping or history hunting.

The best answer may well be to mix it up and sample the sunny outdoors, the arts, plus some of the great food and nightlife. So here is a curated list of seasoned travelers’ tips and picks for the top things to do in Miami, Florida. Get ready for an amazing adventure.

Best Times to Go to Miami

Springtime is probably the best time to visit Miami — if you don’t mind the crowds — followed closely by December through February. The weather is typically warm, but you’ll avoid the heat and humidity.

You may find there’s a festival or two you’ll want to base your visit around. If you travel in March, for example, you can enjoy Carnaval Miami events, like the Calle Ocho Music Festival or Art on the Drive. And in December, the Art Basel international art fair comes to town.

Bad Times to Go to Miami

There really isn’t a wrong time to go to Miami. The beach is always there, after all. But if heat, humidity, rain, and the potential for hurricanes aren’t your thing, you may want to avoid summer travel to Miami or planning a vacation for the summer or early fall.

Average Cost of a Miami Vacation

The cost of a vacation in Miami can vary significantly, depending on how long you stay, when and where you stay, and how you get there. (And, of course, you might lower the price tag by using credit card miles or cash back.)

Travel sites generally put the average cost of a weeklong trip at about $1,200 to $2,450 for an individual and $2,300 to $4,600 for a couple. (If you’re traveling with your kids or traveling with pets, the cost could be significantly more.)

Here are just a few of the costs you may want to consider when budgeting for your trip (and when you’re figuring out how to make the most of your credit card rewards):

Getting There

Roundtrip airfare to Miami can average from $200 to $600 or more, based on where you’re flying from and when you’re traveling. (Don’t forget to look at how credit card travel insurance works, just in case your flight is canceled, your luggage gets lost, or some other mishap occurs.) Driving could end up costing about the same, or even more, if you have to stop at a hotel for a night or two.

Accommodations

If you’re willing to stay at a budget hotel or a hotel or rental that’s outside the more popular areas of the city, you may be able to save some serious money in this category. Otherwise, you can expect to pay about $150 to $700 or more (much more) per night for a mid-range to luxury hotel on your Miami trip.

Transportation

Though much of Miami is walkable, to conveniently get around to everything you want to see, you may want to rent a car. A mid-size SUV could cost about $21 to $66 per day, and a convertible can be about $65 per day.

Dining

The average spend per person for food in Miami can range from $30 to $100 per day. But your food bill may go up or down (just like at home) based on how often you dine out, the restaurants you choose, and whether you drink tap water or an excellent bottle of wine. A couple of street tacos or a fast-food meal, for example, could cost less than $10, while a meal in a nice restaurant like Joe’s Stone Crab might be $100 or more per person.

Sightseeing

There are many free things to do in Miami, and admission to most museums and other attractions generally costs $25 or less for an adult.

Recommended: Where to Keep a Travel Fund

10 Fun Must-Dos in Miami

There’s so much to do in and around Miami, it could be a challenge to squeeze it all into one week—or even two or three weeks. But if you go in with a plan having pre-selected some must-see destinations, you can improve the chances that you’ll get to your fair share of fun activities.

To help get you started, here’s a list of 10 cool things to do in Miami, compiled from dozens of travel sites, blogs, and “best of” lists, plus advice from savvy travelers.

1. Check Out the South Beach Scene

You’ve seen it in movies. You’ve read about it in books. When most people think about Miami, they probably picture the iconic South Beach area. There’s plenty there to explore, from the beautiful, expansive beach to the Art Deco buildings, trendy boutiques, and top-rated bars and restaurants. And the free South Beach Trolley loops around the neighborhood from 8 am to 11 pm seven days a week. It’s a popular area, so expect to find crowds, especially when the weather is at its best.

2. Take a Tour of Little Havana

You can book a bus tour or walking tour of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood to get the full story on its food and cultural diversity. Or you can settle in with a mojito at one of the excellent restaurants there, then wander over to watch a dominos or chess match at Domino Park at the corner of Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) and 15th Avenue.

3. Check Out the Wynwood Arts District

Another top thing to do in Miami: You can take in the street art for free in the super-cool Wynwood Arts District. Then, for more cutting-edge art, buy a ticket to see the Wynwood Walls outdoor museum. Artists from around the world have covered the museum’s abandoned warehouse walls with graffiti and street art. The district is also home to several art galleries, a variety of well-reviewed restaurants, and chic, high-end shopping. thewynwoodwalls.com/

4. Do Some Time-Traveling at HistoryMiami

HistoryMiami is celebrating 80 years of providing access to archives and artifacts that bring South Florida’s stories to life. You can visit the museum’s permanent and rotating exhibitions to get a true feel for the area’s history and heritage, and its evolution. historymiami.org

5. Linger at the Lush Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

If you’re a fan of flowers, butterflies, and all things green, a trip to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a must. Its horticultural collections include tropical fruit trees, orchids, palms, and Florida native plants; and while you’re there, you can wander over to the Wings of the Tropics exhibit to see hundreds of spectacular butterflies fluttering about. The museum hosts several family-friendly festivals and other events throughout the year, including the mouth-watering Bacon & BBQ Classic in June. fairchildgarden.org/

Recommended: How Families Can Afford to Travel

6. Miami Beach Boardwalk

The scenic Miami Beach Boardwalk (sometimes referred to as the South Beach Boardwalk) is a favorite with tourists and locals alike. The pathway starts at the southern point of South Beach and stretches seven miles along the ocean to the Surfside border in North Beach. Or you can venture off the boardwalk onto Lincoln Road and explore the popular shopping district there.

You also may want to build a visit to New World Center into your itinerary and take in a movie or concert from the lawn of SoundScape Park. miamibeachboardwalk.com and nws.edu/events-tickets/wallcast-concerts-and-park-events

7. Go Birding in Barnacle Historic State Park

If you’re ready for something a little outside the city, you might want to take a drive over to Coconut Grove and visit The Barnacle Historic State Park. The park’s location and landscaping attract herons, pelicans, kingfishers, and other shorebirds. While there, you also can take a guided tour of the Munroe House Museum, located on the shore of Biscayne Bay, to get an idea of what life was like for pioneer and sailor Ralph Middleton Munroe in the late-1800s. Picnics are allowed on the lawn, and events are scheduled throughout the year at the museum and park. floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/barnacle-historic-state-park

8. Enjoy Miami’s Exhilarating Nightlife

Miami has a little bit of everything when you’re ready to head out at night, from comedy, improv, and karaoke clubs to nightclubs with rooftop lounges, live music, and dancing, to neighborhood pubs where you can sample a microbrew and watch the ballgame on a big screen. Keep in mind that if you’re heading to a nightclub, there will likely be a dress code that just says no to flip-flops, ball caps, tank tops, and shorts.

9. Tour the Art Deco District

If you’re an architecture buff or just like to look at cool old buildings, you may want to spend some time in Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District. You can take a guided or self-guided walking tour of the district’s lovingly restored buildings. Then learn more about Miami Beach’s Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival, and Miami Modern design styles at the Art Deco Museum and Welcome Center. miamiandbeaches.com/things-to-do/history-and-heritage/art-deco-historic-district

10. Take a Walk on the Wild Side at the Shark Valley Loop

The 15.4-mile Shark Valley Loop Trail is one of the highlights of the vast Everglades National Park and worth the trip if you’re up for a bit of a drive. (It’s about 30 miles west of the city.) You can hike or bike the trail to get a close-up look at Florida’s wild side, or you can take a two-hour guided tram tour from the Shark Valley Visitors Center. nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/shark-valley-tamiami.htm

Insider Tips

Now that you know some of the best things to do in Miami, consider these insider tips that might help improve your trip, including:

A Little Bit About Location

To make your trip to Miami more manageable, you may want to keep your sightseeing priorities in mind when choosing your accommodations. You’ll likely save money on hotels or rentals outside the city or farther from the beach. However, traffic in the area can be challenging, and you could spend a large part of your visit just trying to get to the attractions you hope to see. If your homebase is closer in, you can take advantage of the walkability in many popular tourist areas.

Make the Most of the Fresh Seafood

If you love seafood, you’ll love dining in Miami, where you can get your favorite fish sandwich, fish tacos, scallops, shrimp, stone crab claws, clams, and lobster just about anywhere and at any time of day.

Your choices will range from cutting-edge food trucks to elegant eateries, with menu items at all price points. For a special night out, consider Joe’s Stone Crab in South Beach, which is famous for both its food and the service. Joe’s is best known for its stone crab claws and another Florida favorite: Key lime pie.

Plan How You’ll Pay

It can be a good idea to bring cash, your debit card, and a couple of different credit cards to pay for various things during your trip to Miami. You also may want to bring at least one travel credit card so you can get rewarded for qualifying purchases.

The Takeaway

Miami is a super-popular destination for a variety of very good reasons: Great weather, gorgeous beaches, amazing architecture and attractions, as well as terrific food and drink. If you decide to travel there, there are plenty of incredible sights to see, or you can have fun just lounging by the sea or a pool. That’s part of what makes Miami such a great destination for solo voyagers, couples, friends, and families to visit.

Whether you want to travel more or get a better ROI for your travel dollar, SoFi can help. SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members that lets you budget, plan, and book your next trip in a convenient one-stop shop. SoFi takes the guessing game out of how much you can afford for that honeymoon, family vacation, or quick getaway — and we help you save too.


FAQ

Is it helpful to know some Spanish when vacationing in Miami?

You won’t need to take a language course to get around Miami successfully, but knowing a few popular phrases could be useful, including hola (hello), gracias (thank you), ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?), and ¿Dónde está? (Where is it?).

What are the best things to do in Miami Beach on a rainy day?

Although much of Miami is built around South Florida’s beautiful weather, there are also plenty of museums and galleries to visit if it’s raining or too hot and humid.

What are some things to do in Miami for couples?

Walking the beaches and enjoying the nightlife in Miami are about as romantic as it gets. A visit to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (vizcaya.org/) will provide lush grounds and gardens to explore and plenty of photo opportunities too.


Photo credit: iStock/Gian Lorenzo Ferretti Photography

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What Is a FICO Score? FICO Score vs Credit Score

What Is a FICO Score? FICO Score vs Credit Score

When applying for a form of credit such as a personal loan or credit card, applicants likely have their credit score top of mind. As they review their different credit scores, they may wonder: What’s the difference between a FICO score and a credit score?

Put simply, a FICO score is simply a type of credit score that uses the FICO credit scoring model. A credit score is essentially a generic term, whereas a FICO score is a credit score created by a specific brand.

What Is a FICO Score?

A FICO Score is a type of credit score that’s created by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). It’s a very popular form of credit score, and many companies rely on it when determining the creditworthiness of applicants.

Not all lenders use FICO score models though, as some use their own credit scoring models or rely on a score made by one of FICO’s competitors.

Is a FICO Score the Same as a Credit Score?

The main difference between FICO scores and credit scores is that FICO credit scores are only offered by the brand FICO, as this particular score relies on FICO’s specific credit scoring model. A credit score, on the other hand, is a generic term referring to scores created by any model, as all credit scores are backed by a credit scoring model.

Essentially, what many credit scores do is predict how likely someone is to make their debt payments on time. FICO scores specifically predict how likely it is that someone will fall 90 days behind on a payment within the next 24 months. This credit limit is determined based on a complex algorithm that uses information from credit reports made for each consumer by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). FICO occasionally updates how it determines its scores and releases new versions of the FICO Score.

The higher someone’s credit score is — no matter where the credit score comes from — the higher credit limit and the less likely they are to miss a debt payment. The more reliable a borrower appears to be based on their credit score, the better terms a lender is likely to offer them. A lower interest rate, for instance, can lead to savings, as demonstrated by this personal loan calculator.

FICO Score vs Credit Score: Which Is Better?

A FICO score is not inherently better or worse than a credit score. The term credit score applies to the general concept of the score that comes from a credit scoring model. The FICO Score is simply a brand-name version of a credit score.

All lenders get to decide if they want to use their own internal credit scoring models or one from a brand like VantageScore or a FICO credit score. However, none of the different types of credit scores is necessarily better than the other.

FICO vs VantageScore

As briefly noted before, there are other brands that offer other credit scores to lenders. VantageScore is one of FICO’s main competitors. Like a FICO credit score, VantageScore relies on information from the three major credit bureaus’ credit reports to determine scores.

Both FICO Score and VantageScore give higher credit scores to more creditworthy individuals and their credit rating scales range from 300 to 850. Where these two scoring models differ is in how they determine their scores.

With different FICO scores, there are five categories of information that make up the overall credit score, and each category is given a different weight:

•   Payment history: 35%

•   Credit utilization rate: 30%

•   Length of credit history: 15%

•   Mix of your credit accounts: 10%

•   New credit accounts: 10%

VantageScore, on the other hand, uses six different categories, but doesn’t assign specific weights using a percentage. Instead, VantageScore places a different level of influence on each category:

•   Payment history: Extremely influential

•   Credit utilization: Highly influential

•   Length of credit history and mix of credit accounts: Highly influential

•   Amounts owed: Moderately influential

•   Recent credit behavior: Less influential

•   Available credit: Less influential

Why Is a FICO Score Important and What Is It Used for?

FICO credit scores play an important role when it comes to borrowing money. This is because an applicant’s FICO score indicates how likely they are to make their debt payments on time. The more likely someone is to repay their loan, the less of a risk they pose to lenders.

Because of this, a high credit score is helpful if you want to get approved for a personal loan or a credit card, among other types of loans. Lenders use FICO scores and other types of credit scores to determine how much money to lend someone, how long they have to pay their loan back, and how high their interest rate should be.

What Affects Your FICO Score?

A handful of different factors affect a consumer’s FICO score. The most important among those is payment history. Someone who consistently makes on-time payments will have a higher score, which is why prompt payment is critical to accessing top credit cards and leveraging common uses for personal loans down the road.

The next most important factor affecting a FICO score is how much of available credit someone is using. Using up a lot of one’s available credit indicates to top lenders that a borrower is overextended and may not be able to afford new loan payments.

Someone’s length of credit history also plays a role, and having a longer credit history can help give someone’s FICO score a boost. Having a good credit mix made up of different types of credit — like installment loans, retail accounts, auto loans, and mortgage loans — is also taken into consideration, as is how recently someone opened new credit.

How Do I Get a FICO Score?

Getting a FICO score is easy. Consumers typically can access their FICO score through lenders, credit card issuers, credit bureaus, and select financial institutions.

Because the FICO Score is such a popular credit report, some consumers may want to know what their FICO Score is before they apply for a new form of credit, such as a type of personal loan. That way, they can get an idea of whether they may qualify and under what terms.

The Takeaway

The FICO score is simply a type of credit score that utilizes a credit scoring model from the brand FICO. Many lenders choose to use the FICO score when deciding which applicants to lend money to and what terms to offer them — including how much interest to charge them. That being said, some lenders choose to use use industry specific scores, competitor models, or their own internal models to determine who they want to lend money to.

Before applying for a personal loan, it’s important to make sure you know where your credit score stands. For those who aren’t sure what type of interest rates they may qualify for, SoFi is here to help. With SoFi, you can find what interest rates you qualify for within 60 seconds, and with no commitment required. From there, you can complete your application and receive funds as soon as the same day.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.


Photo credit: iStock/Lyndon Stratford

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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How to Maximize Your Credit Card Rewards for Travel

How to Maximize Your Credit Card Rewards for Travel

There are so many different credit cards on the market, it can be hard to decide which one to apply for. If you like to travel and are always daydreaming about your next trip, you may want to consider a travel credit card. These cards can offer travel-related benefits, such as enhanced hotel or airline status, free upgrades, or no charge for baggage. Travel credit cards also earn rewards that you can use to offset the cost of travel.

However, deciding what type of card to get and using your credit cards rewards for travel can be complicated. The same holds true for learning how to maximize your rewards once you do settle on which plastic you want.

Here, some guidance to help you maximize your credit card rewards for travel, including:

•   How to find the best credit card for travel rewards

•   How to use rewards for travel

•   How to get the most out of your travel credit card

Types of Credit Card Rewards for Travel

Credit card rewards come in several types. When it comes to using rewards for travel, consider these options to find what best suits your needs:

•   Airline points and miles cards: With these credit cards, you typically earn miles or points on purchases made with the card. These can be redeemed with the particular airline’s rewards programs. Examples of airline credit cards include the Citi AAdvantage Mastercard and United Explorer Card.

•   Hotel credit cards: With this kind of travel credit card, you typically rack up points that can be used for rewards (such as upgrades or free nights) at a particular hotel chain. For instance, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, Hilton Honors American Express Card, and IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card are all examples of these co-branded cards.

•   Flexible currency cards: With these cards, you are not locked into a single airline or hotel chain. The points/miles and rewards you earn can be transferred to different programs, via Ultimate Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Membership Rewards.

You might use a conventional rewards credit card that earns cash back and lets you redeem your rewards for cash in the form of a statement credit, bank transfer, or check. You can then apply this toward travel-related expenses. The best rewards credit card for travel will be the one that suits your needs and spending style; the idea is to get one and use it frequently.

Credit cards that earn points typically let you redeem those points for things like travel, cash back, gift cards, and merchandise. The value of points will vary, but generally, a point is worth about $0.01. However, you may get better value when you redeem points for things like travel.

There are many factors to consider when deciding between credit card miles vs. cash back vs. points cards. Cash-back cards often have low or no annual fees, and you can redeem your cash back for any purpose. However, they don’t usually have high-value welcome offers and may not offer as many benefits as other rewards cards. Credit cards that earn points or miles offer travel-related benefits and can help reduce the cost of travel, but they may charge large annual fees, and the value of the points and miles may vary.

Recommended: What Is the Average Credit Card Limit and How Can You Increase It?

5 Steps for Using Rewards for Travel

Here are five easy steps for using your rewards for travel.

1. Set a Travel Goal

First, set a travel goal. Decide where you want to go and when. If you are flexible on dates, you can save money or points. For example, flying a few weeks before Christmas instead of a few days before can save you a lot of money.

Is there a certain hotel or resort you dream of staying in? Do a little research to see what their rates are like. You might see that your target dates are at a time of high demand and cost due to a special event at that moment. You can then move your date a bit to avoid those extra-high prices. Or perhaps you are looking for just a two-night stay at a hotel near Lake Como, Italy, but all the lodging there has three-night minimums in summer. This kind of intel can be very useful as you plan.

Also, once you determine your goal, you can begin to develop a travel budget and start a travel fund to keep your money secure as you save and earn some interest.

2. Figure Out the Miles and Points You Need

Once you know where you want to go and when, you should see which miles and/or points you will need to get there. Scope out which airlines fly to your destination from your home airport (or another nearby), and which airlines they might partner with.

As you research routes that you might take, get a rough idea of how many miles or points the flights might cost. Be aware of blackout dates and other special considerations.

3. Research Airline and Hotel Loyalty Programs

Most hotels and airlines have loyalty programs in which you earn and redeem points and miles with that hotel or airline. Every hotel and airline has its own point system, though some have networks of partners, in which rewards can be used at multiple brands.

Airline partners within the same airline alliance allow you to redeem miles on flights operated by their partners. For example, Star Alliance includes airlines such as Air Canada, TAP Portugal, United Airlines, and many more. If you are looking at a flight, you may want to look up potential partners, as it is sometimes cheaper to book that flight with miles from a different partner.

4. Shop for Credit Cards That Will Help You Meet Your Goal

Once you know which airlines and hotels will work best for your travel goal, you can figure out which credit card rewards can help you reach that travel goal.

Credit cards with rewards can be an example of how families afford to travel. You can earn points and miles every time you swipe or tap and then redeem them for travel expenses, like flights and hotels.

You may want to apply for a credit card with the specific airline or hotel, or one that offers points that are transferable to airline and hotel partners (like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards). Be sure to research which airlines and hotels these rewards programs partner with. You should also compare things like annual fees, welcome offers, earning structures, and benefits like travel insurance. Make sure you understand how credit card travel insurance work; that can be an important perk.

5. Track Your Progress

Once you have signed up for the credit card(s) that will help you meet your travel goal, there are a few things that you will need to track. If your credit card has a welcome bonus after spending a certain amount, you will need to track your progress toward that minimum amount. Some banks track this for you in your account, but others do not. Some other things that you may want to consider tracking include:

•   Spending requirements

•   Spending goals

•   Deadlines

•   Bonus reward categories

•   Points expiration dates

•   Hotel points to help save on hotel costs

•   Frequent flier miles

Recommended: Getting the Most Out of Your Credit Card Rewards

Tips for Maximizing Your Cards

Maximizing your cards is important to get the most rewards that you can. Follow this advice to help squeeze every last drop of value from your cards.

Label Your Cards

If you have multiple credit cards, it can be difficult to remember which one to use for which purchase. You may have one card that earns more on dining, another that earns more on gas, and a third that earns more on groceries. Some credit cards have rotating bonus categories that change throughout the year and may offer a short-term bonus earning opportunity, like extra points on gas purchases for the next few weeks.

If you have trouble remembering which card to use for which purchase, you can try using stickers or tape on the card with words like “gas” or “dining.” This can help you find the right card at the right moment. This strategy can also offer some helpful guidance if you have a partner who is not as invested in maximizing their cards as you are.

Time Large Purchases Strategically

If you know that you will have a large or several large purchases coming up in the near future, you may want to plan your credit card strategy around them. You might apply for a new credit card with a welcome offer shortly before making the large purchase. Some credit cards have welcome offers that require you to spend a certain amount during the first few months. If you would not otherwise spend that amount of money, timing it around the large purchase could help you meet this minimum spend and earn a hefty bonus (say, extra points).

Utilize Shopping and Dining Portals

Shopping and dining portals can give you extra miles, points, or money when you complete an eligible purchase. This involves going through a certain platform when making a purchase so that you can earn extra cash back, points, or miles. In this way, you can stack these portal rewards with other rewards, like the ones that you are earning on purchases on your credit card.

•   Portals can be through an airline, credit card, or independent cash-back company. Some popular airline portals include American Airlines’ AAdvantage eShopping and AAdvantage Dining, Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards Shopping and Rapid Rewards Dining, and Delta Air Lines’ SkyMiles Shopping and SkyMiles Dining, among others.

•   Credit card companies that offer their own online shopping portals include Chase, Capital One, and Barclays. Popular cash-back portals include Rakuten, Mr. Rebates, and Top Cashback.

•   To use a shopping or dining portal, you would sign up for an account with the specific portal program. When you are ready to make a purchase at a retailer, you can go to the portal program’s website first, and click through there to the retailer to complete your purchase. You could also download a browser button for the program, and then click on the button before you complete your purchase.

•   If you want to compare which portal will give you the best return for a retailer, CashbackMonitor.com lets you search by stores or rewards types.

Try Apps

If you find yourself with points and miles in a variety of reward systems (like various airlines, hotels, and credit card companies), you may have a hard time keeping track of it all. Apps, like Travel Freely and MaxRewards, can help you organize your credit cards, rewards, points, and miles. Apps can help you easily see which credit card to use for which purchase, how many rewards you have in various systems, view upcoming annual fees, and more.

The Takeaway

Credit card rewards can help make travel more affordable. Once you have figured out which credit card can enable you to reach your travel goals, learning how to maximize your cards will likely boost the rewards you reap. By labeling your cards, timing large purchases, utilizing shopping and dining portals, and using apps, you may get closer to your dream vacation that much more quickly.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.


Photo credit: iStock/martin-dm

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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