Is It Better to Cancel Unused Credit Cards or Keep Them?

Depending on how many and what kind of credit cards you have, you could be thinking about closing unused credit cards. After all, if you’re not using them, you might think it’s better to simplify your life and your finances. However, there are some good reasons to keep your credit card accounts open, even if you’re not actively using the card.

There are a few ways that credit cards affect your credit score, and closing an unused credit card might actually lower your credit score. So before you cancel an unused credit card, make sure you understand how that can impact your credit score. That will allow you to make an informed decision that is best for your specific financial situation.

Here, you’ll learn:

•   Should I cancel unused credit cards?

•   Do unused credit cards hurt your credit score?

•   When is it better to cancel a credit card?

How Do Unused Credit Cards Affect Your Credit Score?

There are a few factors that make up your credit score. Two of the components of your credit score are your utilization ratio (how much of your available credit you’re using) and your average age of accounts. Closing an unused credit card can impact both of these:

Increase Available Credit

Your credit card utilization is defined as the amount of your available credit that you are currently using. So if you have a card with a $10,000 limit and you have an average balance of $1,000, your utilization is 10% ($1,000 divided by $10,000). A low utilization is a positive indicator for your credit score. So closing any credit card account will lower the total amount of available credit you have. This will raise your utilization percentage and possibly lower your credit score.

Recommended: How to Read a Credit Report

Increase Credit History Length

Another factor that makes up your credit score is the average age of your accounts. Having credit accounts that have been open for a long time is generally considered more positive for your credit score than having only recent accounts. So if you close an unused credit card, especially one that you’ve had open for a long time, it can lower your average age of accounts and possibly also hurt your credit score. The account may stay on your report for a while, but when it eventually drops off, your score could decrease.

Recommended: 10 Advantages of Credit Cards

Are There Risks to Keeping Unused Credit Cards?

So while it can make sense to keep your unused credit cards open, there are a few risks of keeping unused credit cards. If you no longer are monitoring your account, there is a higher risk that someone might commit credit card fraud with your account. So you’ll want to make sure that you are regularly looking at your accounts, and maybe even make an occasional purchase on each credit card that you have.

When Is It Better to Cancel a Credit Card?

There are also some situations where it’s better to just cancel a credit card. One reason to cancel a credit card is if it comes with an annual fee.

•   If you’re not using a credit card and not getting any value from its benefits, it usually won’t make sense to pay the annual fee, especially when there are so many credit cards that offer good rewards with no annual fee.

•   Another situation where it might make sense to cancel a credit card is if you’re having trouble controlling your spending. If having a credit card is causing you to go into debt or spend more than you earn, it might make sense to do a bit of a financial reset.

Using a debit card or moving to paying with cash might help you get to a better spot, financially speaking.

Can You Cancel a Credit Card Without Hurting Your Credit Score?

If you’re thinking about canceling a credit card without impacting your credit score, there are a few things that you can do to help mitigate the hit to your credit score.

•   One thing is to make sure to pay down any balance on the card before you close it.

•   Another possible option is to call your credit card company and see if you can move some of your available credit to another credit card. That might help keep your credit utilization ratio high.

The Takeaway

If you have a credit card hidden away in your sock drawer that you no longer use, you might wonder, “Should I close unused credit cards?” You might be tempted to just cancel the card so you don’t have to think about it anymore. However, there may be some reasons where it can make more sense to keep the card open, even if you never or rarely use it. Keeping it open may help build your credit score, and if you close a card you’ve had for a long time, it can impact your credit score.

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.

FAQ

Do unused credit cards close automatically?

An unused credit card generally won’t be closed automatically, at least at first. However, most credit card companies do reserve the right to close your account for any reason, including if you don’t use your credit card. So if you want to keep a credit card account open, it may make sense to occasionally make a purchase or two.

Does canceling an unused credit card hurt your credit?

Canceling an unused credit card can lower the total amount of your available credit. This may lower your credit utilization ratio, which is one of the major factors that make up your credit score. Make sure that you understand any possible impacts to your credit score before you cancel an unused credit card.

Is it bad to have an unused credit card?

No, in most cases it is not bad to have an unused credit card. In some cases, it can even help to keep your credit card accounts open, even if you’re not actively using the card. This is because having an open account increases your available credit and it may raise your average age of accounts. Both of these are factors that go into calculating your credit score.


Photo credit: iStock/FreshSplash

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting St. Louis

Welcome to your gateway to the Midwest: St. Louis! The city is a fun, energetic place to visit; it’s packed with culture, history, parks, and live music. If you play your cards right, you’ll never be bored in this Midwestern metropolis.

Whether you prefer to indulge in delectable dishes or marvel at historical landmarks, you’re sure to find something in St. Louis. So get ready as we journey from the top of the Arch to the endless city parks and beyond. You’ll learn not just the best things to do in the city, but also smart strategies about when to go and how to score deals.

Best Times to Go to St. Louis

The best time to visit St. Louis depends on your preferences and what you hope to see. However, for most people, the best times to visit St. Louis is likely to be in the fall or spring for two reasons. First, St. Louis can be bitterly cold in the winter and hot and sticky in the summer. For these reasons, you might prefer the milder weather in the fall or spring.

In addition, some of the city’s best events occur when the weather is less extreme. For instance, there is the St. Louis Renaissance Festival, which runs from September to October. There is also the Taste of St. Louis and the Great Forest Park Balloon Festival, both of which take place in September. If you visit these attractions, consider a travel credit card to earn some extra points or miles.

This isn’t to say there is nothing to do outside of the fall in St. Louis. In the spring, there is St. Louis Earth Day. Plus, baseball starts in spring, so it’s always a great time to catch a game.

On the topic of events, however, you might want to bundle up and head to St. Louis in the winter. One of the best events in the city is Soulard Louis Mardi Gras, which takes place in January and February. While it isn’t necessarily the best time to visit in general, it’s an amazing event if you love Mardi Gras. The St. Louis event features a family festival, scavenger hunt, and a cajun cook-off.

Bad Times to Go to St. Louis

Bad times to visit St. Louis will also depend on your preferences. However, there are certain things you may want to avoid:

•   Extreme weather: St. Louis can be extremely hot in the summer with temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a hefty dose of humidity. This might complicate your summer travel plans. In the winter, temperatures can drop below freezing at times, with periods of snow and ice that make walking and driving dangerous.

•   Tourist season: St. Louis often experiences an influx of crowds in the summer months and around on holiday weekends. This can mean long lines at tourist attractions.

•   Baseball games: The St. Louis Cardinals tend to draw big crowds when there are home games. If you aren’t a baseball fan or don’t like crowds, it’s best to stay away, especially from the areas near the stadium.

•   Spring allergies: While spring is a great time to visit St. Louis, there can be a lot of pollen during this time. If you are highly sensitive to pollen, you may want to visit during a different time of year.

Average Cost of a St. Louis Vacation

The cost of a vacation in St. Louis depends on several factors, depending on where you stay, what you eat, and the length of your stay. Keep in mind that credit cards often include travel insurance to protect you against unexpected costs and cancellations. This is good in its own right and may keep you from spending on separate trip insurance.

You will likely find St. Louis to be more affordable than cities like New York or Los Angeles. Of course, the cost estimates are also different for individuals and couples. Here’s what to expect:

For individuals:

•   Hotels: $80 to $200 per day for mid-range hotels, depending on the location and amenities and what steps you take to save money on hotels.

•   Food: $25 to $50 per day.

•   Transportation: Public transportation is $1 per ride for buses and $2.50 for trains in St. Louis. Day passes cost $5. However, renting a car may be necessary, depending on where you are staying.

•   Attractions: $10 to $25 per attraction, depending on what you decide to see.

This works out to an average budget of about $120 to $275 per day for individuals. A cash back or miles credit card could help you offset some of that cost.

For couples:

•   Hotels: $80 to $200 per day for mid-range hotels, depending on the location and amenities.

•   Food: $50 to $100 per day.

•   Transportation: Public transportation is $1 per ride for buses and $2.50 for trains in St. Louis. Day passes cost $5. If you will be flying to St. Louis, look into using an airline credit card.

•   Attractions: $20 to $50 per attraction, depending on what you decide to see.

This works out to an average budget of about $155 to $400 per day for couples. If you are struggling with the cost, look into book now, pay later vacations, but be careful about incurring too much high-interest debt.

10 Fun Must-Dos in St. Louis

There are so many fun things to do in St. Louis that narrowing it down is tough. However, there are certain things you can’t miss, especially if you’ve never been to St. Louis. Those attractions are included here, as are some hidden gems you may not have considered.

This list is culled from crunching the top ratings found online for the best things to do in St. Louis, as well as picking the brains of seasoned travelers who’ve been to this Missouri city.

1. Visit Gateway Arch National Park

It’s difficult to think of a single attraction that is a stronger focal point in a city’s identity than Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis. At 630 feet tall, the Gateway Arch is a feat of engineering and represents the connection St. Louis makes to the western United States. While scaling the Arch is the obvious highlight, there is also a museum on-site and plenty of walking trails around the monument. Tickets for the tram ride to the top and back typically range from $11 and up for kids to $15 and up for adults. gatewayarch.com/

2. Go on a Ghost Hunt in the Lemp Mansion

The Lemp Mansion is a historic estate located in the Benton Park neighborhood. The mansion was home to the Lemp family, who dominated the local beer market before Prohibition. However, Frederick Lemp, who ran the William J. Lemp Brewing Co., tragically died of heart failure. After William died, three Lemp family members took their own lives. Now, you can go on a ghost hunt at the Lemp Mansion, which is an ode to the home’s troubled past. The tours are typically $25 per person. lempmansion.com/isithaunted.htm

3. Go on a Tour at Anheuser-Busch

If you love beer (and even if you don’t), going on a tour at Anheuser-Busch is a must when in St. Louis. Tours start at $15 per person, including experiences like seeing the famous Clydesdales, meeting the brewmaster, and some beer samples. The brewery also features a beer museum, a gift shop, and classes. If tours aren’t your thing, you can also visit the beer garden or restaurant on-site. budweisertours.com/locations/tours.html

4. Check out Citygarden

Here’s one of the fun free things to do in St. Louis: If you enjoy modern art and the outdoors, you can’t leave without visiting Citygarden Sculpture Park. Located downtown, the park features various greenery, fountains, and most notably, an array of modern-art sculptures. There are 25 sculptures from 23 artists spanning 12 decades. This park allows dogs, which is perfect if you are traveling with pets. It’s also a fun thing to do in St. Louis with kids, and it’s wheelchair-accessible. citygardenstl.org/visit/

5. Enjoy Forest Park

Opened in 1876 and spanning 1,300 acres, Forest Park is one of America’s oldest and largest public parks. The park is so large that it contains several other major attractions, including the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, and the Missouri History Museum. Admission to every one of these attractions is free, so you could easily spend multiple days just visiting Forest Park. forestparkforever.org/visit

6. Explore the Soulard Farmers Market

Located on the grounds of the “Grand Hall,” the Soulard Farmers Market is an open-air market and one of the oldest farmers markets in the United States. It features various fresh meats, produce, and baked goods. It features 147 stalls and is open Wednesday to Saturday year-round. While an ATM is on-site, the farmers market recommends bringing low-denomination bills if possible. soulardmarketstl.com/

7. Catch a Baseball Game

People are passionate about sports in St. Louis with baseball as the focus. Head to Busch Stadium to see the St. Louis Cardinals play. Even if you don’t love baseball, attending a game can be a great experience on a spring or summer evening. Grab a beer and hot dog, and soak in the crack of the bat hitting the ball and the oohs and aahs of the crowd. Credit card rewards sometimes give you cash back for entertainment, so don’t forget to earn extra points if you go to a game. mlb.com/cardinals

8. Traverse the Katy Trail

If you’re looking for an escape from the city, go for a walk or a bike ride on the Katy Trail. You can pick the trail up in St. Charles, just on the other side of the Missouri River. However, Katy Trail is the country’s longest developed rail/trail, spanning 240 miles between Machens and Clinton. It features 26 trailheads and four fully restored trail depots along the trail. mostateparks.com/park/katy-trail-state-park

9. Take a Ride to Union Station

St. Louis Union Station was once a bustling rail station, transporting more than 100,000 people per day at one point. President Harry Truman, Joe DiMaggio, and Joan Crawford all came through the station back in those days. Now, the station is home to attractions like the St. Louis Aquarium and the St. Louis Wheel. Unlike the museums at Forest Park, these attractions aren’t free, but adult tickets start at $25 for the aquarium and $15 for the Ferris wheel. If you’re struggling with the costs, building a travel fund can help. stlouisunionstation.com/

10. Visit the St. Louis Science Center

As mentioned earlier, the St. Louis Science Center is connected to Forest Park grounds and accessible via an aerial bridge in the park’s southeast corner. The museum has more than 700 interactive experiences within 10 galleries. Among those experiences are a planetarium and a four-story OMNIMAX® Theater. Note that while admission to the Science Center is free, the museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. slsc.org/

Getting Around

As mentioned earlier, trains and buses are very cheap in St. Louis, so using them is a good idea if possible. While there are many great areas in the city, some of the best areas to visit are Midtown, Forest Park, and Soulard. Whether you are traveling alone or traveling with family, St. Louis has a lot to offer.

The Takeaway

St. Louis is known as the gateway to the West, but this exciting city has no shortage of things to do. With everything from farmer’s markets to haunted mansion tours, from museums to hiking trails, St. Louis has all the entertainment you need — and then some.

SoFi Travel is a new service offered exclusively to SoFi members. Earn 2x rewards when booking with your SoFi Mastercard or debit card. Then apply those rewards to your next trip when you book through our travel portal. SoFi makes planning a getaway fast, easy, and convenient — perfect for people on the move.


SoFi, your one-stop shop for travel.

FAQ

Is St. Louis good for tourists?

St. Louis is a great city for tourists, with free museums, outdoor parks, and the Gateway Arch. There’s more than enough to keep tourists entertained in the city.

What is St. Louis best known for?

St. Louis is known for many things, including the Gateway Arch, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and its various parks and museums.

How to spend 3 days in St. Louis?

Three days should give you enough time to see some of the city’s highlights. On the first day, you might visit the Gateway Arch, one of the city’s museums, and a brewery. On the second day, you could visit the botanical garden, Forest Park, and then go for dinner and perhaps see some live music. On the third day, you could explore Soulard, catch a baseball game, and if you prefer, see the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.


Photo credit: iStock/Sean Pavone


**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.

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Costa Rica

Considering a Costa Rica vacation? As part of Central America, Costa Rica is a beautiful country with lush rainforests, active (and safe) volcanoes, and pristine beaches. It’s a natural wonderland that’s become a favorite destination for those who want to explore its beautiful landscapes.

It can also be a convenient trip: Many cities offer direct flights, which means you shouldn’t have to devote too much travel time. Plus, if you’re happy with mid-priced restaurants and lodging, it’s an affordable country to visit compared to other popular travel destinations.

Keep reading to find out the best and worst times to visit, how much you can expect to spend, as well as some fun experiences and locations worth checking out while you’re there.

Best Times to Go to Costa Rica

There are two things to consider when planning a trip to Costa Rica: people and weather.

If you want to avoid heavy rain and tourists, the sweet spot for visiting Costa Rica is January and February. Not only is the weather dry and warm, but you won’t feel like you’re in a sea of people.

If you’re researching how to save money for a trip to Costa Rica, one of the best things you can do as a frugal traveler is book during the off season. With its rainforests, beaches, and and volcanoes, Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination for a variety of reasons. Determine what excites you the most to narrow down when you should travel so you’re not overwhelmed by fellow tourists and heavy rainfall.

Recommended: Credit Card Miles vs. Cash Back: How to Choose

Bad Times to Go to Costa Rica

As briefly mentioned above, the two things you want to keep in mind when visiting Costa Rica are weather (especially rainfall) and fellow tourists.

Costa Rica has an average temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit all year round, so you don’t need to plan around the temperature so much as the rain. May through November is when the region typically experiences its heaviest rainfalls (with September usually being the peak month).

Tourists often visit the country once the rainy season ends and kids are off for school break. Therefore, from December to April is when many people choose to travel. If you don’t like crowds and the possibility of bumped-up prices, avoid those months.

Recommended: How Does Credit Card Travel Insurance Work?

Average Cost of a Costa Rica Vacation

Here are some estimates of what a Costa Rica vacation can cost if you seek out mid-range restaurants and lodging. Knowing these prices can help you budget, decide where to keep your travel fund, and get started saving.

If traveling alone: If traveling with a spouse:

•   $18 per day on meals

•   $19 per day on transportation

•   $88 per day for lodging

Average amount spent per week: $602

•   $36 per day on meals

•   $38 per day on transportation

•   $88 per day on lodging

Average amount spent per week: $1,205

These costs don’t include your travel to and from Costa Rica. This expense will obviously vary depending on when you travel, where you are traveling from, and how you like to travel (say, business class vs. basic economy with no checked bags). Another factor: how well you do your research on how to get cheap flights and hack your way to the lowest possible prices.

Financial prep for travel can begin with considering how to finance your trip.

•   Do you have a year to save? Could you create a travel fund and have some money automatically transferred in with every paycheck?

•   Or, to afford a Costa Rica trip in the near future, could you take advantage of a book now, pay later travel deal without taking on too much debt?

•   Could you find a travel deal that makes the trip a too-good-to-pass-up prospect? That does happen sometimes, meaning spending time on research can reward you well!

10 Fun Things You Must Do in Costa Rica

Looking for fun things to do in Costa Rica? This list was developed by scouring online forums, review sites, and travel guides to formulate the top 10 things you should do in Costa Rica. Plus, there’s advice from savvy travelers who’ve explored the country.

1. Explore Monteverde Cloud Forest

One of the best things to do in Costa Rica is visit Monteverde Cloud Forest, which, for nature lovers, is like a vast playground. Here, visitors can explore the reserve via zip lines, go birdwatching, visit butterfly and hummingbird reserves, and take a nighttime guided tour to see and hear the park’s nocturnal residents. With almost 26,000 acres, it’s no wonder the reserve sees almost 70,000 unique visitors each year.

If you put this one on your list, you’ll want to purchase tickets in advance. On its website you can buy a day pass, book an experience, or reserve a room at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge. Typically, a day pass is $12 for kids, $25 for adults. cloudforestmonteverde.com/

Recommended: How to Save Money on Hotels

2. Trek Around Arenal Volcano National Park

Located near La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano is an active volcano in Costa Rica. While it hasn’t had a major eruption since 1968, it still has frequent, minor eruptions that visitors can safely view and appreciate. Because of this, it’s one of the most unique things to do in Costa Rica.

Visitors should also consider spending time in the town of La Fortuna. While it provides great views of Arenal Volcano, there are also numerous restaurants and attractions to explore.

3. Soak in Tabacon Hot Springs

Just west of La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano National Park is Tabacon Hot Springs, which is one of the most popular hot springs in Costa Rica, if not the world. Here you can lounge in one of the many clean, natural pools heated by the Arenal Volcano. You’ll want to book your visit well in advance because spots are limited. Day passes start at about $80 for adults and $38 for kids, depending on the season; a full array of treatments, from facials to massages, are available at the spa. tabacon.com/

4. Take a Surf Lesson

If you’re looking for things to do in Tamarindo Costa Rica, one of the best things you can do is surf or take surfing lessons. With coastlines on both the Caribbean and the Pacific, it’s a dynamic country to get some great waves for both beginners and experts. If you’re just starting out, book a surf lesson to get the most of your time.

5. Bask on the Beaches of Guanacaste

Located in the northwestern part of Costa Rica (and about two and a half hours away from Arenal Volcano) is Guanacaste, which has some of the best beaches in the country. Note for those traveling with pets: Yes, dogs are allowed at these public beaches!

If you’re not one to soak up the sun, there are a ton of outdoor activities you can do in the area, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing. So, if you and your traveling partner have different tastes, one of you can enjoy a spa day at a local resort while the other has a little adventure.

It can be wise to work those credit card rewards when touring Costa Rica. Whether you use points to help pay for purchases or swipe a credit card to accumulate rewards doesn’t matter because both are smart financial moves.

6. Visit Manuel Antonio National Park

If you’re learning how families afford to travel, one of the ways they do so is by visiting locations that offer great experiences at reasonable prices. At Manuel Antonio National Park (manuelantoniopark.com/), you can reserve day passes and hike the trails, or you can book a variety of unique experiences, such as:

•   ATV tours

•   Medicinal plants tours

•   Jungle night walks

•   Zip line

•   Whale watching

Prices start at around $40 for kids and $60 for adults for a guided tour.

7. Go Whitewater Rafting

Costa Rica has a host of spots perfect for whitewater rafting. Depending on your skill level and taste for adventure, you can likely find a fun outing to splash through the scenery. It can be wise to book a rafting experience close to your hotel. For example, if you plan on staying in Guanacaste for the beaches, then the Tenorio River is close by and offers both class III and class IV rapids.

8. Chow Down at Lola’s Restaurant

Located in Guanacaste, Lola’s Restaurant has exquisite food and photo-worthy views. You’ll be tucked amid palm trees by the beach. Soak in the sights while also enjoying some of the best food in Costa Rica, whether you’re craving a guanabana smoothie or some seared ahi tuna. If you’re lucky, you may even visit during a surfing competition or get to meet Lolita, the pet pig. lolascostarica.com/

9. Venture into Venado Caves

One of the top things to do in Costa Rica is visiting the Venado Caves. Located near the Arenal Volcano, Venado Caves can offer an all day experience if you have ever wanted to go spelunking. Not only can you take a guided tour, but you can also swim in underground pools and rivers. FYI, you will get wet and muddy, so be prepared! cavernasdelvenadocr.com/index.html

10. Hike to La Leona Waterfall

If you’re comfortable hiking 30 minutes to and from, La Leona Waterfall is one of the most magnificent waterfalls in Costa Rica. Group tours start at $30, while private tours are $45. Once you reach the bottom of the trail, you can even take a dip in the natural pools to cool off. leonawaterfall.com/

The Takeaway

Costa Rica is an exciting country to visit. Because it’s so popular, it can be wise to book your trip as early as possible to ensure you get to do everything you want. There are waterfalls, parks, whitewater rapids, and other natural wonders to see, as well as great food and spa treatments to enjoy, among other attractions.

SoFi Travel is a new service offered exclusively to SoFi members. Earn 2x rewards when booking with your SoFi Mastercard or debit card. Then apply those rewards to your next trip when you book through our travel portal. SoFi makes planning a getaway fast, easy, and convenient — perfect for people on the move.


SoFi, your one-stop shop for travel.

FAQ

Is Costa Rica safe to visit?

Yes, it is. The Department of State lists it as a safe country for Americans to travel to, but does warn to exercise increased caution due to crime. To help combat petty crime, the Costa Rican government provides additional security personnel for areas frequently visited by tourists.

What vaccinations are recommended for traveling to Costa Rica?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends standard vaccines be up to date and also receive the following when traveling to Costa Rica: Yellow fever, hepatitis A and B typhoid, malaria, and possibly rabies.

Can I travel with my dog to Costa Rica?

Yes, you can, but travel forms and vaccinations are required.


Photo credit: iStock/SL_Photography


**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.

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Chicago

America’s coasts tend to steal the limelight from the rest of the country, with travelers setting their sights on New York and Los Angeles. But those cities can be pricey. And perhaps you’re looking for a trip not featured on every third Instagram account.

For me, Chicago checks all the boxes. Nestled against Lake Michigan, Chicago feels like a coastal city even if that isn’t technically true. Plus, you could visit every weekend for a year and not run out of things to do. Here are the must-sees and must-dos for your first visit to Chicago and beyond.

Best Times to Go to Chicago

The best time to visit Chicago is in the summer, as that is when most of the city’s biggest events happen. That includes the Chicago Air and Water Show (Aug 19-20, 2023), the Taste of Chicago (Sept 8-10, 2023; see below), and the Lollapalooza music festival (Aug 3-6, 2023; Lollapalooza.com). Visiting in summer means you’ll also be able to spend time at Chicago’s numerous beaches and catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field or the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Another great time to visit Chicago is in the winter. If you don’t often see snow, downtown Chicago will be especially beautiful at this time. You can shop at the Christkindlmarket or go ice skating in Millennium Park. And the Chicago Auto Show takes place every February.

Recommended: The Best Time to Book Summer Travel

Bad Times to Go to Chicago

There are no bad times to visit Chicago, but the city isn’t as lively during the cold-weather months outside the holiday season. And when the weather is cold, but not quite cold enough for snow and ice, the city will be even less appealing because ice skating may not be an option.

Generally, January and February can be relatively uneventful in Chicago, especially if the Chicago Auto Show doesn’t interest you. If that is the case, you’re better off visiting either during the holiday season or when the weather is a little warmer.

Average Cost of a Chicago Vacation

The average cost of a Chicago vacation can vary significantly depending on the length of your stay and your accommodations. But suppose you plan to stay for one week in a nice hotel and fully immerse yourself in the culture during your trip. In this case, you can expect to spend about $1,260 for a single person and about $1,684 for a couple. It can be more expensive when traveling with a family.

Remember that these are only estimates, and you may be able to stay in Chicago for less. For example, a single person traveling on a budget could take a one-week vacation to Chicago for less than $1,000. Again, it depends on where you stay and how much you spend at local attractions, bars, and restaurants.

10 Fun Must-Dos in Chicago

Chicago is known for its music scene, great food, and world-class museums, among other things. There is so much to do in Chicago that choosing just 10 attractions isn’t easy. My picks let you experience the city for what it really is — gritty but determined and altogether incredible.

If you plan to do everything on this list, consider purchasing a Chicago CityPASS (CityPass.com/chicago). While these passes aren’t cheap ($134 adults; $104 children), they include entry to several of Chicago’s most popular attractions and will save you money overall. Also consider buying a weekly or monthly pass for CTA, Chicago’s mass transit system. Renting a car is another option, although it isn’t always the cheapest.

As far as where to stay, you can’t go wrong with areas like West Loop, South Loop, and River North. Or if you want to live more like a local, consider neighborhoods like Lake View, Logan Square, and Old Town. Of course, hotels can be expensive, so you’ll want to save money on accommodations whenever possible. From these areas, you can access most of the spots on this list via the CTA system.

1. Millennium Park

Have you even visited Chicago if you don’t see Millennium Park? The park features iconic art installations such as Cloud Gate (known colloquially as “The Bean”) and the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an amphitheater that hosts live music. There’s also Crown Fountain, incorporating a water fountain and oversized LED screen projecting images of faces. Other highlights include Maggie Daley Park, where you’ll find an ice skating ribbon and an outdoor rock-climbing wall. 201 E. Randolph St.

Recommended: How to Balance the Urge to Travel and the Need to Save

2. Willis Tower Skydeck

Formerly the tallest building in the world, Willis Tower stands 1,451 feet tall. Naturally, the Willis Tower Skydeck is the best way to view the city. Chances are, you’ve already seen photos of people visiting the Skydeck, with its clear-glass area simply called The Ledge. Adults $41, youth $33. TheSkydeck.com

3. Original Rainbow Cone

If you find yourself in Chicago during the searing summer months, you’ll need a way to cool down. Fortunately, Chicago has plenty of ways to do that, and one of the best is to visit the original Rainbow Cone in the Beverly neighborhood. The ice cream shop has been around for over 95 years and is famous for its original flavors: orange sherbet, pistachio, Palmer House, chocolate, and strawberry. 9233 S. Western Ave. RainbowCone.com

4. Art Institute of Chicago

Founded in 1879, the Art Institute is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world. Featuring countless masterpieces, it has one of the best collections of Post-Impressionist paintings outside France. Look for classics like “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” and Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist.” The Art Institute’s permanent collection features nearly 300,000 works of art. 111 S. Michigan Ave. Adults $32, seniors and students $26, children under 14 free. Artic.edu

5. Taste of Chicago

Chicagoans know that Taste of Chicago is a unique opportunity to try the city’s many flavors all in one place. Sure, the food tends to be overpriced, but there’s no other way to experience so many Chicago dishes in so little time. (And the cost of food is a great excuse to earn credit card rewards.) Years ago, I saw a Counting Crows concert at the Taste, which is completely free to attend. Of course, events vary each year, but it’s worth the investment if you’ll be in town while the Taste is happening. Sept 8-10, 2023, in Grant Park.

6. Celebrate the Irish Spirit

People from all over the world have made Chicago their home since the start of the Industrial Revolution, but the Irish are some of Chicago’s loudest and proudest. As a result, Chicago is home to countless Irish festivals and parades. The St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown (ChicagoStPatricksdayparade.org) and the South Side Irish Parade (SouthSideIrishParade.org), also in March, are two of the best ways to experience Chicago’s Irish culture. And if you’re in Chicago for the downtown parade, be sure to check out the dyeing of the Chicago River. 2024 dates TBD.

7. Museum of Science and Industry

If you nerd out over science stuff, you can’t miss the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). Touted as the largest science center in the western hemisphere, MSI was founded in 1893. Its marquee exhibits include the German U-505 submarine captured during World War II (admission is $18 for adults on top of museum entry fee), a full-size replica coal mine, and the command module from Apollo 8. If you buy a membership to the museum ($95 per year for individuals), you get unlimited entry at no extra cost. 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. Adults $25.95, children 3-11 $14.95. MSIChicago.org/

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8. Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium opened in 1930, and for a time its 5 million-gallon capacity was the largest in the world. It is home to 32,000 animals today, including fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and insects. Some of its most popular species are penguins, sharks, sea otters, and turtles. The CityPASS program includes unlimited entries to the Shedd. 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Adults $40, children $30. SheddAquarium.org

9. Vito & Nick’s Pizza

If you think Chicago is all about deep-dish pizza, think again. I grew up just blocks from Vito & Nick’s, which has been featured in countless articles and TV shows over the years. Despite being a hole in the wall, the pizzeria draws people far and wide for arguably the best thin-crust pizza in Chicago. Located in Chicago’s Scottsdale neighborhood (or Ashburn, depending on who you ask), Vito & Nick’s is an escape from downtown, but it’s worth the trip. 8433 S. Pulaski Rd. VitoandNicks.com

10. Schubas Tavern

Located in the heart of the Lake View neighborhood, Schubas Tavern is housed in an old Schlitz brewery. The venue has a wide selection of drinks and food, and features an even wider range of live music, from indie to jazz. Perhaps the best part about seeing a show here is the intimate setting, which gives you an up-close-and-personal look at some great artists. 3159 N. Southport Ave. LH-St.com

The Takeaway

Chicago is a one-of-a-kind city with some of the best food, entertainment, and architecture in the world. Although it can sometimes be overshadowed by cities like London and New York, you can have an equally good time in Chicago — and likely for less money. If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, you are sure to find it here.

SoFi Travel is a new service offered exclusively to SoFi members. Earn 2x rewards when booking with your SoFi Mastercard or debit card. Then apply those rewards to your next trip when you book through our travel portal. SoFi makes planning a getaway fast, easy, and convenient — perfect for people on the move.


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FAQ

What are the most popular things to do in Chicago with kids?

The most popular things to do in Chicago include trips to Millennium Park, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Skydeck at the Willis Tower.

What are the best outdoor activities in Chicago?

The best outdoor activities in Chicago include visiting Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and North Avenue Beach.

What are 5 things that Chicago is known for?

It’s tough to narrow it down to five, but we’ll go with the Magnificent Mile, Second City, Millennium Park, Chicago Riverwalk, and Skydeck Chicago.


Photo credit: iStock/tunart

**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).



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Have Baby, Will Travel: Tips for New Parents

Shortly after my daughter, now 14, was born, I got the best advice: “Travel with her soon, ideally when she’s 6 or 7 months. That’s old enough to be engaged but young enough to be portable.”

My wife and I soon whisked her off to Amsterdam. We strolled along canals, sipped white beers with lunch, and explored art and history museums. Contrary to what many new parents believe, it could not have been better timing.

Pros and Cons of Traveling With a Baby

The most obvious perk of traveling with a baby: You don’t need to pay for their airplane seat until they reach age two! Besides that, the upsides and downsides depend on your approach to parenting.

Generally speaking, traveling around the 6-month mark is mostly positive. Before babies start crawling, they don’t struggle to be put down or need a baby-proofed hotel room in which to roam. You can ditch the stroller and opt for a carrier as you explore, and the baby can either nap or observe the scenery.

There’s also a good chance your baby isn’t yet relying on solid food — we actually delayed kickoff by a month or two until after our travels — so there’s no need to hunt down special infant meals. If you’re breastfeeding, keep it up through your trip and you’ll barely need to pack a thing for your baby. Otherwise, just bring enough formula (yes, TSA will allow it through) and you’ll be good to go.

With infants younger than 6 months, you may face more fussiness. And depending on the conditions your little one needs to get to sleep, your schedule may have to revolve around nap times. After they’ve started to crawl or toddle, you’ll want to be more vigilant of potential hazards in your hotel, rental, or host’s home.

When planning your day, keep in mind that picky eaters can take time to satisfy. But what better way to expand your kid’s palate than in another country? Our daughter tried her first taste of pancakes in Amsterdam, while sitting in her first-ever high chair, and it remains one of our favorite early-parenting memories.

By the way, we also have good tips for new parents wondering how families afford to travel.

Pre-Trip Checklist

Before you go anywhere, you’ll want to check a few important items off your to-do list.

Collect Your Baby’s Travel Documents

When you’re traveling within the United States, your baby is good to go. Just be sure to have their birth certificate on hand and, if only one parent is present, a letter of consent from the other, to avoid any custody dramas while you’re trying to enjoy a vacation.

If you’re traveling internationally, via plane, your little one will need a passport just like every other U.S. citizen. When traveling by sea, you’ll want to bring the birth certificate and consent letter from a parent who stays at home.

To apply for your baby’s passport, be sure to start the process as early as possible by filling out form DS-11 , found on the State Department’s site. You’ll be asked for evidence of a birth certificate (and/or other options to prove citizenship, if they apply to you) and a properly formatted photo. This image will be used until your kid is 5 and needs an updated passport — a source of great amusement for them until then, guaranteed.

Recommended: How to Balance the Urge to Travel and the Need to Save

Visit the Pediatrician

Consider bringing your baby to the pediatrician about a month before your departure, and make sure they are up-to-date on routine vaccinations. Additional shots may be required depending on your destination.

Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for other travel alerts. And be sure to pack any medications your child might need, such as baby acetaminophen in case of teething pain or fever.

(By the way, this article will tell you what to do if you or your baby get sick on vacation.)

Pack or Reserve Baby Items

Think about what you might need at your destination: bassinet, Pack ‘n Play, etc. You may be able to call to request larger items at your hotel or rental, attached to your reservation. If you plan on renting a car, make sure you reserve a car seat.

If you don’t already have a baby-wearing sling or pack that’s light and comfortable, consider investing in one. The structured Ergobaby and Tula are two excellent options. If you’re not a baby-wearing type and your baby is old enough to sit up, think about getting a lightweight folding stroller (Maclaren has a range of great options) that’s easy to carry and maneuver (and should meet all carry-on specifications). Leave your souped-up fancy version at home.

Flying With a Baby

What to Bring

The things you’ll need when traveling with a baby are not so different from what you need for a day in the park. Besides a stroller or carrier, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got enough amusements on hand to get your baby (and those around you) through the flight without much drama. I remember getting great new-parent tips from others about flying, including the advice to bring a small bag stuffed with distractions: board books, her Sophie the Giraffe teether, a light-up rattle. It was an excellent idea, even though she wound up happily playing with an empty plastic water bottle for much of our time in the air — anything that works!

If you’ve got a toddler who likes to snack, have plenty of their favorites with you (for yourself, too, as they’re not the only one who needs to be distracted from grumpiness). Other useful items to bring in your carry-on: plenty of diapers, wipes, a travel diaper pad to use in the cramped bathroom (not fun), formula, and a small cozy blanket.

Recommended: Air Fares: What You Need to Know

Dealing With Air Pressure Changes

When flying with a baby, take-off and landing are likely to be the toughest parts, due to air-pressure changes in the cabin that can plug up their little ears. Start breastfeeding or bottle-feeding a few minutes before the actual take-off or landing. The sucking and swallowing actions will help their ears keep popping. Your little one will be blissfully unaware that they’re supposed to start screaming.

At Your Destination

When traveling, think of your baby as a mini-version of you, and take all precautions (and then some) that you’d take for yourself. For summer travel in warm climates, apply mosquito repellant, use plenty of sunscreen (don’t forget to reapply!), and dress them in long-sleeved rash guards while swimming or on the beach. In new countries, avoid tap water.

Consider nap times, and where you’d like to be to help facilitate your baby falling asleep in a strange environment. Finally, be prepared to adjust your plan as you go to accommodate any fussiness and meltdowns.

Recommended: Responsible Tourism: How Travelers Can Support Local Economies

The Takeaway

Don’t stress out about traveling with your infant — enjoy it! Now, when your little one is still portable and not yet making their own demands, might be your last chance to feel free as a bird while exploring a new place. No, they won’t remember the experience, but you will. And you’ll have the pictures and stories to prove it.

SoFi Travel has teamed up with Expedia to bring even more to your one-stop finance app, helping you book reservations — for flights, hotels, car rentals, and more — all in one place. SoFi Members also have exclusive access to premium savings, with 10% or more off on select hotels. Plus, earn unlimited 3%** cash back rewards when you book with your SoFi Unlimited 2% Credit Card through SoFi Travel.

Wherever you’re going, get there with SoFi Travel.


Photo credit: iStock/tatyana_tomsickova

**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).


External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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