Planning Ahead for the 2018 Olympics

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Believe it or not, the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics are a mere five months away. Opening ceremonies will be held on February 9th, and the games conclude on February 25th. If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands considering a trip to the Olympiad next year, it’s best to start doing your research now, including how to finance your trip.

Here are a few key questions to ask while you’re still in the early stages of planning.

What events do I want to attend?

The Olympics are made up of multiple events – opening and closing ceremonies, preliminaries, medal games, etc. – so you’ll have to pick and choose what you want to attend, even before tickets go on sale. You can find a full schedule of events here.

In the U.S. (as well as the EU and Canada), there’s only one authorized seller for PyeongChang 2018: Cosport.com. Tickets will be sold per event, and the cost will differ according to amount and type of seat desired. Cosport.com also offers ticket packages that cover multiple events so fans can follow a specific competition or team.

For example, premium seats at the opening ceremony in PyeongChang Olympic Stadium cost a little over $15,000, while mid-range seating at a qualification event can cost under $100, sometimes even under $50.

What does EOI mean?

Technically, tickets don’t go on sale worldwide until February 9th – the day the games begin. But, beginning January 18th, Cosport.com will open an ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) period. During this time, buyers list the events they want to attend, as well as number of seats and price tier.

Traditionally, the host country has preference when it comes to ticket choice. (Tickets went live for South Koreans this past February.) Those who submit an EOI will receive their tickets by December 2017, a full three months before tickets go officially live around the world.

If you’re looking to attend any major events, like a gold medal hockey match or snowboard final, be sure to fill out your EOI, ASAP.

Is there anything I can do now to prepare financially?

South Korea is one of the world’s foremost cashless economies. Only about 20% of all payments made throughout the nation are made with cash, and the country’s leading bank – The Bank of Korea – expects to go fully cashless by 2020. Of course, exceptions will be made for travelers within the Olympic grounds, and you can always track the conversion rate of the U.S. dollar to the South Korean won.

The simplest answer is to use an existing Visa card or sign up for a new one. Visa is the only credit card issuer accepted at the Olympics, and it’s one of the most widely-accepted credit card providers in South Korea.

If you want to prepare for the Olympics and you don’t have a Visa card in your portfolio yet, we recommend signing up for either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the new United℠ TravelBank Card. Both cards come with $0 in foreign transaction fees and can help you save a solid chunk on airfare.

Plus, you could earn a sizeable signup bonus. If you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card ownership, you’ll earn 50,000 in bonus points. If you redeem those points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, you’ll earn an additional 25% in value – that’s about $625. Points also transfer at a 1:1 value to participating airlines and hotels.

United Airlines is already a participating partner within the Chase Sapphire program, but if you travel often and you prefer to fly with United, check out the United℠ TravelBank Card (currently unavailable). You’ll earn $150 in TravelBank cash after you spend $1,000 within your first three months of account ownership. There’s no annual fee, and TravelBank cash never expires. (Note: If airline choice isn’t a deciding factor, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a higher rewards rate and more flexibility when it comes to non-United purchases.)

It’s possible to combine both cards: With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s 1:1 transfer rate, you might be able to turn 50,000 points into TravelBank cash. But be wary of Chase’s 30-day rule – you cannot apply for more than two Chase cards within any 30 day period.  

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