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Jessica Merritt

Editor & Content Contributor

38 Published Articles

About Jessica Merritt

Jessica has studied points and miles for more than 5 years. She is a current contributor with U.S. News, covering credit cards and loans, and is the publication’s former personal finance managing editor. Passionate about supporting consumers, Jessica helps readers get the most value from their money, whether the currency is cash, points, or miles.

With a family of 5, Jessica’s travel these days consists mostly of short domestic getaways and camping trips. Some of her favorite destinations are Key West, Orlando, Denver, D.C., and points within the great state of Texas, though she’s always researching a new trip!

Jessica lives in the Houston area with her husband and 3 kids who are always ready to hit the road, and, if given the choice, would probably sleep in a hotel or at a campground full time.

Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Houston.

Countries Visited: 4
U.S. States Visited: 23
Highest Hotel Status: Hilton Honors Gold
Favorite Airline Alliance: No loyalty here!
Best Redemption Value: Nearly-free visits to Disney World for a family of 5, 2 years in a row!
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, and American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Countries visited icon

Countries Visited

US states icon

U.S. States Visited

Hilton Honors Gold

Spirit Gold (yes, really)

No loyalty here!

None yet!

None yet here, either!

Nearly-free visits to Disney World for a family of 5, 2 years in a row!

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Jessica's Latest Articles

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When To Buy Travel Insurance and How To Best Time Your Purchase

Timing is key when buying travel insurance. It’s best to buy travel insurance within 2 weeks of making your first trip payment. You can buy travel insurance at any time, even after departure with some travel insurance providers. Still, the…

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Spirit Airlines Airbus A320 Economy Class Review [LAS to IAH]

Airline: Spirit AirlinesAircraft: Airbus A320Flight #: NK1679Route: Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) > George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)Date: May 26, 2023Duration: 2hr 59minCabin and Layout: Spirit Airlines main cabin economy class; 178 standard seats and 8 Big Front Seats across 31…

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Travel Insurance With COVID-19 Coverage: Stay Safe and Protected

‌COVID-19 continues to add a layer of uncertainty to travel, especially international journeys. Travelers may be unsure how to travel protected from COVID-19 and navigate international vaccine, testing, and quarantine requirements. While most countries have dropped COVID-19 entry requirements, there’s…

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Travel Insurance 24/7 Hotlines [Understand Your Benefits]

Traveling can be exciting but also comes with uncertainties and risks. But if you’ve covered your trip with travel insurance, you’ve got a lifeline in your pocket: the travel insurance company’s 24-hour travel assistance hotline. Whether you’re just planning your…

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Why You Need Medical Insurance When Traveling Abroad

Traveling abroad can introduce you to new and thrilling experiences as you immerse yourself in diverse cultures and stunning landscapes. But you’re probably not prepared to explore the complexities of a foreign healthcare system. Medical emergencies can happen anytime, and…

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Is Travel Insurance Worth It? Here’s What You Should Know Before Your Next Trip

Travel can be an exciting and enriching experience, but it’s not without risks. Unforeseen events such as medical emergencies abroad or trip cancellations can disrupt your plans and leave you with financial losses. When things go wrong on your trip,…

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Best Travel Insurance for Winter, Adventure, and Extreme Sports

Planning an adventurous trip? Your travel insurance might not cover everything you want to do — particularly if you plan on adventure activities or winter or extreme sports.  Whether diving the ocean’s depths or ziplining through a forest, sports travel…

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Best Travel Insurance Policies With Cancel for Any Reason Coverage [2023]

Unexpected circumstances can disrupt even the best-laid travel plans, which is where Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) travel insurance comes in. With CFAR travel insurance, you can cancel your trip for almost any reason and receive partial reimbursement for nonrefundable…

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Hilton Grand Vacations Club Elara Center Strip Las Vegas (In-Depth Review)

I visited Hilton Grand Vacations Club Elara Center Strip Las Vegas for 3 nights in May with my husband. We stayed at the hotel using a timeshare vacation package from Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) and attended a presentation during our…

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What Are Interchange Rates? [And 10 Ways To Reduce Them]

Behind the scenes of every credit card transaction are processes and payment infrastructures that come with costs — and credit card networks charge businesses interchange fees for these costs. Credit card interchange rates affect every credit card payment you accept…

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Take Control of Credit Card Debt: Current Balance vs. Available Credit

When you log in to your credit card account, you’ll see your current balance and available credit. If you don’t understand what these numbers mean, you may get confused about what you’ve spent on your credit card — and what…

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Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine in Texas [In-depth Hotel Review]

I stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine in the Dallas, Texas, area with my family of 5 for 2 nights in May 2023. We visited with another family and packed a lot of fun into 3 short days at…

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How To Get Derogatory Marks Removed From a Credit Report

A derogatory mark on your credit report can make getting approved for new credit challenging. From late payments to bankruptcies, derogatory marks may stay on your credit for up to 7 years — or sometimes 10 years for certain types…

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Hilton Grand Vacations Timeshare Presentation Review [What To Expect]

I attended a Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) “ownership” presentation in Las Vegas in May 2023. As a travel and finance nerd, it was honestly pretty fun, and I found it more fascinating than the awkward, high-pressure sales meeting I was…

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Credit Card Minimum Payments & How To Avoid the Debt Trap

A credit card minimum payment is the lowest amount you can pay on your credit card account each month to avoid late payment fees and penalties. It’s what you must pay to skate by and avoid immediate disaster, but not…

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How Many Credit Cards Should You Have To Build Credit?

Having at least 1 credit card can help you build credit as long as you make on-time payments and keep a low credit utilization ratio. However, holding additional credit cards can help you further raise your credit score as they…

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Easy Steps To Quickly Unfreeze Your Credit [All 3 Credit Bureaus]

When you freeze your credit, you restrict access to your credit report by potential creditors and lenders. Unfreezing your credit lifts this restriction and allows access to your credit report again.  There’s a simple process to follow to freeze or…

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How To Remove Paid Collections From a Credit Report [5 Tactics]

You paid off a collection account, but it’s still haunting your credit report. What gives?  It’s a good idea to pay off collection accounts, but the fact is that even paid collection accounts can stay on your credit report for…

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Tru by Hilton Frisco Dallas [In-depth Review]

I recently stayed at the Tru by Hilton Frisco Dallas with my family for 4 nights on a group trip. The hotel was clean, modern, and welcoming, and its lively lobby made it a great choice for a group stay….

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Can You Pay Your Mortgage or Closing Costs With a Credit Card?

Purchasing a home is typically one of the largest purchases in a person’s lifetime. And with significant closing costs involved in purchasing a home, many wonder if they can use a credit card to potentially earn rewards on these large…

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FICO vs. Credit Score: Differences and Similarities You Need To Know

You may not realize that you have multiple credit scores — your FICO score is just one of them.  People often consider FICO scores and credit scores to be the same thing. When we say “credit score,” we often mean…

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Find out about other members of the team

Andrew Kunesh

Former Content Contributor

Andrew was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and now splits his time between Chicago and New York City.

He’s a lifelong traveler and took his first solo trip to San Francisco at the age of 16. Fast forward a few years, and Andrew now travels just over 100,000 miles a year, with over 25 countries, 10 business class products, and 2 airline statuses (United and Alaska) under his belt. Andrew formerly worked for The Points Guy and is now Senior Money Editor at CNN Underscored.

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