Monthly Archives: June 2018

30Jun 2018

Breaking Down the Frequent Flier Mile Programs – New York Times


Frugal Traveler

Breaking Down the Frequent Flier Mile Programs

Getting the most out of these programs can be tricky. Here’s a basic rundown of some of the more popular ones and what you can expect from them.

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CreditAndy Rash

By Lucas Peterson

  • June 12, 2018

We all dream of flying in first class, glass of prosecco in hand, away from the screaming children and armrest battles. But for most, that doesn’t happen very often — if ever. Frequent flier programs can help, landing travelers who spend a lot of time in the air free drinks and snacks, the occasional upgrade, and miles to redeem for flights. But negotiating the world of airline rewards can be onerous. Ever-changing rules, low reward-flight availability, and depreciating or disappearing flight charts can make it tricky to get the most of these programs. Here’s a basic rundown of some of the more popular ones, and what you can expect from them.

General Tips

Even if you’re not sure you’re going to be flying a lot with a particular airline, I recommend signing up for an airline-specific frequent flier program. You never know what future travel may hold, and every mile counts: American Airlines, for example, offers one-way flights within the United States for as few as 7,500 miles — an amount that can be earned within just a couple of trips.

If you’re positive you won’t be flying with an airline again, shift your focus to airline alliances. Taking a flight on Finnair and not likely to head back to Finland? Consider crediting those miles to another carrier in the Oneworld airline alliance, like American Airlines.

But you ultimately may want to put your focus on just one or two programs. Before you do, consider where you live and where you’ll be traveling. Alaska Airlines may not be a great fit for East Coasters; JetBlue and Southwest, two beloved low-cost carriers, won’t help too much if you frequently travel to Europe.

Delta

Delta, one of the three United States legacy carriers and a member of the SkyTeam global alliance, regularly appears near the top of “Best U.S. Airlines” surveys. Its frequent flier program, SkyMiles, allows basic members to earn a base level of five miles per dollar spent on Delta flights, which increases as fliers travel and spend more with Delta, moving up their four-tiered elite Medallion membership system.

The lowest level, Silver status, is available to fliers who log 25,000 qualifying miles (or 30 Delta segments flown) as well as earn $3,000 worth of qualifying dollars. Qualifying miles are determined by miles flown and what class you fly; qualifying dollars are pegged to how much money you spend on flights. Silver status is within reach for semi-serious travelers — a cross-country trip every other month should do the trick — and comes with some decent benefits, including a free checked bag (for you and up to eight traveling companions) and complimentary access to preferred seating. Silver fliers can get upgraded to first class, too, but as the lowest ranking elite members, it doesn’t happen often.

Diamond Medallion, the highest tier, lavishes some impressive benefits onto its members, including 11 miles per dollar spent, more frequent upgrades and a gift that Delta calls a Choice Benefit, which could include 25,000 bonus miles, the ability to gift Gold status to a friend or family member or a $200 Tiffany’s gift card (you’re allowed to choose one Choice Benefit when reaching the penultimate Platinum status, and one at Diamond Medallion). It won’t come cheap, though — Delta has set the bar higher than other U.S. airlines to qualify as one of its top fliers, requiring 125,000 qualifying miles and $15,000 qualifying dollars. Don’t plan on attaining this unless you’re truly a sky warrior.

Flyers I’ve spoken to are generally pleased with Delta’s product. But as for the SkyMiles program itself, that’s another story. Delta is known for having unexpectedly devalued its SkyMiles multiple times over the last few years, frustrating some loyal travelers. It’s also somewhat notorious for not publishing an award chart (something both United Airlines and American Airlines do), which does little to curtail the impression of opaqueness.

American Airlines

American Airlines is a founding member of the Oneworld alliance. Its AAdvantage program has four elite status tiers, three of which include the word platinum: Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum. Like Delta, American requires its fliers to earn 25,000 qualifying miles and 3,000 qualifying dollars to earn its lowest elite status tier. Gold members can enjoy the occasional upgrade (again, don’t count on it), a free checked bag and, like Delta, a 40 percent bonus on miles earned (seven per dollar spent instead of five).

Executive Platinum members have a slightly lower earning threshold compared to Delta Diamond Medallion members: They must earn 100,000 qualifying miles and 12,000 qualifying dollars to achieve top status. In return, they’ll receive four systemwide upgrades, three free checked bags and priority boarding.

Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro members also receive automatically requested upgrades on all domestic flights — the two lower tiers, in an odd quirk of the American Airlines system, have to use 500-mile upgrade certificates on flights over 500 miles in length (for example, you’d need to use five to go from Los Angeles to New York). Four certificates are earned per 12,500 qualifying miles flown.

American is fairly aggressive about trying to bring fliers into its program, offering status challenge opportunities, in which you must fly a given amount within a three-month period, opportunities to purchase status and even just bestowing free status to certain members of its program.

United Airlines

United, the final of the three legacy carriers, is a member of the Star Alliance program, the world’s largest, with 28 airlines flying to over 1,300 destinations. Members of its MileagePlus program can climb up the four-tiered status ladder from Silver, at the bottom, up to 1K at the top. Three thousand qualifying dollars and 25,000 qualifying miles are required to reach Silver; like American, 12,000 qualifying dollars and 100,000 qualifying miles are needed to reach top status.

Silver status, at the bottom, has a few modest benefits, including access to Economy Plus seats at check-in, a free checked bag and better access to Saver awards (those requiring fewer miles) on United award flights. At the 1K level, fliers can expect more frequent upgrades, waived fees to book or change award travel, and 11 miles per dollar spent.

There are a few nice benefits that come with Gold status, achieved after hitting 6,000 qualifying dollars and 50,000 qualifying miles. One is that it automatically confers Star Alliance Gold status — usable across all applicable airlines and lounges in the network. Not only do you get access to lounges overseas, but also priority check-in and boarding, and occasionally even fast-tracked security lines. There are also crossover benefits with certain travel-related partners: Holders of Gold status can receive elite status with Hertz and Marriott, for example.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines was once somewhat niche: A favorite of those who lived on the West Coast and in Alaska. Now that it has acquired Virgin America, though, it has a fleet large enough that it demands to be included in any conversation about elite status. It’s also a favorite of many travelers; the website The Points Guy named its frequent flier program the best in the country.

Upon looking at the details of its program, Mileage Plan, it’s easy to see why: Attaining status is exceedingly simpler and more streamlined. Unlike the three legacy carriers, Alaska confers miles and status by actual mileage flown and has not (yet) become revenue-based. That means if you fly 5,000 miles, you earn 5,000 miles (on other carriers you may earn a fraction of that number, depending on what you paid for the ticket).

Mileage Plan has just three tiers, instead of four: MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K. Earning MVP status requires 20,000 miles; MVP Gold 75K requires (you guessed it) 75,000 miles. Top status holders will receive a 125 percent bonus on the miles they fly, as well as 50,000 bonus miles for qualifying. Distributing award miles by actual mileage will allow most midlevel, nonbusiness-class fliers to rack up miles more quickly than with revenue-based airlines.

The downside? The network isn’t as comprehensive as the three legacy carriers. But if your travel is mostly confined to the western half of the United States, as well as coast-to-coast trips, Alaska could very well make sense for you.

Low-Cost Carriers

JetBlue and Southwest Airlines both deserve some attention, despite not having traditional tier-based elite status programs (and in Southwest’s case, only a single class). JetBlue has a fiercely loyal traveler base, which is attracted to perks like its generous seat pitch, free snacks and free Wi-Fi.

Its elite status program, Mosaic, only has one level — you either have it or you don’t. It’s attained by flying 30 segments and earning 12,000 flight points, or just earning 15,000 flight points. Calculating flight points is a bit complicated — it depends on what fare you purchase, but it can vary between three and eight points per dollar spent. Mosaic members will enjoy perks like waived fees, free booze on board and two free checked bags. They will not, however, receive free upgrades to Mint, JetBlue’s premium cabin.

Southwest Airlines is another crowd favorite, known for its focus on customer service and lettered boarding system. And while Southwest is a low-cost carrier, sometimes servicing the second- or third- largest airports in a region, it’s maintained certain perks while other airlines have slashed theirs: Southwest still allows two free checked bags and doesn’t charge fees to change your flight.

Its frequent flier program, Rapid Rewards, is simple enough: you earn six points per dollar for the cheapest fares, up to 12 points for its Business Select fares. Racking up 35,000 points or 25 flight segments confers A-list status, which provides a 25 percent points bonus and priority boarding (a considerable perk on Southwest — no more waiting to check in exactly 24 hours before the flight).

The Companion Pass, attained by earning 110,000 points or flying 100 segments, is one of the best deals currently available in the flying world. Once earned, it’s valid for the rest of the year, plus the entire following year (if earned in June 2018, for example, it would be valid through the end of 2019). The holder is allowed to fly a designated companion along with him or her for free, anytime, anywhere Southwest flies. Companions even fly free when the pass holder books a flight with points. The best part? Points earned with any of Southwest’s credit cards, including sign-up bonuses, count toward those 110,000 qualifying points.

Southwest may not be the most luxurious ride in the sky — there are no premium seats on its planes — but isn’t free better than fancy?

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page TR10 of the New York edition with the headline: Running the Gantlet Of Frequent Flier Plans. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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30Jun 2018

Pokemon Go news: Safari Zone Dortmund update and Shiny Articuno day rewards – Express.co.uk


Niantic has the big Pokemon Go Fest coming up in Chicago, which will follow on from another large fan event.

Pokemon Go Safari Zone in Dortmund is scheduled for today and will include its own bonuses and rewards.

Being held in the Westfalenpark from Saturday, June 30, to Sunday, July 1, Trainers of all ages will be able to catch a wide variety of Pokémon.

This will include some rarely seen in Europe, suggesting that some top Pocket Monster catches will be available.

The countdown timer on the official Niantic site suggests a start time of 10am, local.

Here are some of the rewards of attendance that Niantic has confirmed so far:

Increased Pokemon Encounters: Catch a wide variety of Pokemon, including some that have never been seen before in Dortmund. This is a great chance to fill in some gaps in your Pokédex.

Photo Ops: Commemorate the experience by snapping photos with your favourite Pokemon at the many awesome photo opportunities around the park.

Team Lounges: Cool off and recharge in one of the three mixed team lounges, where you’ll meet your fellow Instinct, Mystic, or Valor teammates.

A new box sale is also available in the Pokemon Go in-game shop, which is geared toward hatching eggs.

Three bundles are available, with the Ultra box providing the most amount of items for the price.

Costing 1480 Pokecoins, the Ultra box includes 12 Super Incubators, Lucky Eggs, Incense and Star pieces.

Global bonuses will also be unlocked during the Safari Zone event, depending on how well players perform on another task.

It has also been announced that a new Shiny Articuno global research challenge is being released.

Beginning today, Pokemon Go Trainers will be able to start the new challenges during the Safari Zone event.

Players will be able to unlock new rewards if they do well with the challenges, which will start unlocking after the Dortmund event.

Some of these are attached to Articuno Day on July 7, which will feature the Legendary bird being available in raids for a short amount of time.

“The first round of Professor Willow’s Global Challenge begins on June 30 and July 1 during the Safari Zone event in Dortmund, Germany,” Niantic explain.

“If certain areas of the world can meet the requirements of the challenge, they will unlock XP bonuses for catching Pokémon, hatching Eggs, and participating in Raid Battles, starting July 2.

“Also, Trainers can unlock a bonus to make Lucky Eggs last for one hour until July 9!

“Plus, if the challenge is completed, Trainers worldwide will be given five free Raid Passes when they spin a Photo Disc at a Gym for Articuno Day, featuring the Legendary Pokémon Articuno!

“On Saturday, July 7, Articuno will be available in Raid Battles around the world for a three-hour period. And if you’re lucky, you may be able to encounter its Shiny form.”

So there’s plenty for Pokemon Go gamers to look forward to in the coming weeks, even if they’re missing out on the Safari Zone and Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago.

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30Jun 2018

Friday expected to be busiest air travel day of the year: TSA – ABC News


The Friday before the Fourth of July holiday means Americans looking forward to three things for certain: fireworks, barbecues and, of course, red, white and blue.

One thing they may not know: the number of people flying across the U.S. to attend those holiday celebrations.

Despite travel chaos during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Transportation Security Administration says Friday could ne the busiest travel day of the year.

On Friday alone, the agency expected to screen 2,718,000 passengers, 100,000 more people than the Sunday after last Thanksgiving.

Airlines are gearing up for packed flights.

“People think our Super Bowl is Thanksgiving, but our Super Bowl is the summer operation,” said Delta Airlines Operations and Customer Care Senior Vice President Dave Holtz. “It’s the summer we worry about. It’s 90 days of chaos.”

And while the end of this week is possibly one of the busiest yet, nearly every Friday this summer will be just as busy for air travelers, officials said.

Each day this summer, the airlines expect to fly 2.7 million passengers, up from 2.5 million on average last summer, according to the trade group Airlines for America.

To help with the high number of passengers this weekend, Delta is using a new laser technology, assisting pilots in parking aircraft as they approach the gate.

Additionally, Orlando International Airport will be the first U.S. airport to use the “biometric exit,” a facial recognition technology U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and Greater Orlando Aviation Authority announced will “transform the passenger experience for arriving and departing travelers.”

For those planning to be in the air this busy weekend, TSA says traveling with any fireworks or other explosive devices is prohibited, not even in checked bags.

ABC News’ Nathan Luna and Whitney Lloyd contributed to this story.

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30Jun 2018

Have a Citi credit card? You may be getting some money back – MarketWatch


Some Citi cardholders are about to have a payday.

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection announced a settlement Friday with Citibank

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 , after it found Citi violated the Truth in Lending Act.

Nearly 2 million Citi cardholders will receive an average refund of $190 each under the terms of the agreement, Citi said in a statement. Citi will have to hand over a total of $335 million to customers.

Citi violated the Truth in Lending Act by failing to reevaluate and reduce the annual percentage rates (APRs) on about 1.75 million credit card accounts, as regulations under the Act require, the Bureau said. The Act requires credit-card issuers to review and reevaluate APRs at least once every six months and reduce them accordingly if the consumer has changed in certain ways, such as if their credit score has improved. The issuer must reduce the rate within 45 days of completing that evaluation, the rules state.

Because Citi did not do that, some cardholders paid more in interest than they should have, the Bureau found.

The settlement applies to cardholders with a range of Citi cards.

Citi will not have to pay the Bureau any fines on top of the consumer refunds because Citibank identified and reported its violations to the Bureau and initiated its own repayment to consumers, the Bureau said.

“Citi is pleased to have resolved the matter with the Bureau, and we reiterate our sincere apologies to our customers for not correcting these issues sooner,” Citi said in a statement.

Customers who were affected will be automatically refunded and don’t need to take any action, a spokeswoman for Citi said. Citi has already refunded some consumers and will continue to send refunds through the rest of the year.

Cardholders who have been delinquent on payments should pay particular attention to their cards’ APRs, said Matt Schulz, a senior industry analyst at the website CreditCards.com. Companies are legally allowed to increase the interest rates of cards for customers who have been late on their payments, as a “penalty rate.” But after six months, the card issuer must reevaluate their status and performance, according to the Credit CARD Act.

“If you handle your business properly, you have a good chance of having that penalty rate undone after six months or so,” Schulz said. “it’s incumbent upon you to make sure if you haven’t seen that change, that you reach out to your card issuer and say, ‘I’ve done what I needed to do.’”

Of course, it’s better not to make a late payment in the first place, he said. Cardholders can avoid that by setting up automatic payments, or getting text or email alerts when their payments are due.

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29Jun 2018

Credit card rewards lovers just scored a huge win in the Supreme Court — but it could cost them more in the long run – Business Insider


American Express charges higher swipe fees than other cards, such as MasterCard and Visa.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • American Express received a victory this week when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of its anti-steering provisions.
  • These provisions prevent merchants from offering customers incentives to use other credit cards that charge lower swipe fees than American Express.
  • Swipe fees cost merchants, but help fund rewards programs for cardholders — if the court ruled the opposite way, consumers could have seen a cut in their rewards programs.
  • However, consumers might now see an increase in the cost of merchandise to offset the cost of swipe fees.

American Express and its credit card members landed a huge win in court on Monday.

In the lawsuit Ohio vs. American Express, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of American Express over the rules the financial services giant imposes on merchants who accept its cards, reported the Associated Press.

These rules, known as anti-steering provisions, prevent merchants from offering customers discounts, incentives, or preferences to use other cards, like Visa and MasterCard, which charge merchants lower swipe fees (the costs merchants pay for processing credit card transactions).

The federal government and several states argued that these provisions violated antitrust law by preventing merchants from sharing the true information about costs with customers.

American Express defended its practices: They charge higher swipe fees to merchants than competitors because they have wealthier cardholders who spend more money, and these higher swipe fees offer its cardholders better rewards.

That’s right, rewards junkies, those perks you love — points, airline miles, and cash back — are funded by swipe fees.

“Swipe fees are the engine that powers the whole credit card rewards game,” Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst, said in a statement. If the Supreme Court hadn’t found that American Express’s anti-steering provisions promoted healthy competition within the payments industry and the fees had taken a hit, “it would’ve been great news for merchants’ bottom line, but would almost certainly have marked the end of the golden era of credit card rewards.”

As this case demonstrates, the relationship between swipe fees and rewards puts business owners and consumers at odds.

Swipe fees offer perks for customers

American Express, Discover, and Capital One spent a combined $12.9 billion on credit card rewards in 2017 — a 59% increase since 2011, according to consumer research group ValuePenguin.

Year over year American Express has continued to increase their spending on such programs, which could have changed course had the Supreme Court voted the other way,” Joe Resendiz, credit cards analyst at ValuePenguin, told Business Insider.

Schulz said that consumers who love credit card rewards may have dodged a bullet with this victory.

“If merchants were allowed to give customers incentives to use cards with lower swipe fees, that could have been a game-changer,” he said. “That would likely have led to card networks reducing those fees in order to remain competitive, and fewer swipe fees surely mean fewer rewards for credit cardholders.”

This litigation is actually just one part in a series of fights that retailers, like Walmart and Amazon, are having with credit card companies over swipe fees, according to ValuePenguin. If the credit card companies lose, the banks could lose a major source of funding for credit card reward programs, thereby limiting perks for customers.

But they also create a problem for business owners

Yet, the win for American Express and credit card users comes at the cost of business owners — an effect shoppers may have to deal with firsthand.

In a statement, National Retail Federation general counsel Stephanie Martz called the ruling a blow to competition and transparency in the credit card market. “The American Express rules in question have amounted to a gag order on retailers’ ability to educate their customers on how high swipe fees drive up the price of merchandise,” she said.

Retailers spend $50 billion in fees to credit card companies each year, according to ValuePenguin. These transaction costs are built into merchants’ prices — if they are unable to reduce that, customers could see an increase in the price of merchandise to offset the cost.

This is especially true if AmEx continues to raise its swipe fees.

“The record reflects that AmEx consistently has far and away the highest cost of payment compared to its competitors,” Southwest Airlines said in court papers, arguing that the prices for credit card services, particularly AmEx, have risen dramatically, even as the cost of providing services has decreased.

In 2011, Southwest paid about $353 million in credit card fees — $112 million went to AmEx.

Walmart argued that AmEx is able to impose its anti-steering rules and increase their prices because merchants don’t have another choice — declining to take an AmEx card at all would mean a loss of business, and customers, focused on rewards remain oblivious to the costs.

Despite this, one-third of merchants that take credit cards don’t accept AmEx, reports CreditCards.com.

However, both retailers and consumers could get a reprieve. Stephen Squerio, CEO of American Express, announced the company will be reducing merchant fees to appeal to more merchants and expand the number of stores that accept their cards. The new fees will be the lowest they’ve been in nearly 20 years, according to ValuePenguin.

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29Jun 2018

Expect more crowded airports, roads than ever before for Fourth of July travel – CNBC


The Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday this year, giving travelers more flexibility to schedule their getaways and likely setting a record for the number of Americans traveling.

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AAA projects 46.9 million Americans, up more than 5 percent from last year, will travel to celebrate the Fourth of July this year. The motor club defines the holiday period as Tuesday, July 3, to Sunday, July 8. Both the Transportation Security Administration and airfare prediction app Hopper forecast that Friday, June 29, will be the most popular day to fly.

The TSA is projecting that 28.3 million passengers and crew will pass through its lines from June 28 to July 9 on their way to celebrate the Fourth of July. The agency expects to screen 2.7 million people on Friday, which could set a record for its busiest single day ever.

Hopper, which analyzes airfare data, also found that the busiest travel days are between Friday and Monday.

Travelers can expect airports to be the most crowded and tickets to be the most expensive on Friday, the most popular day to fly over those four days. Easing some of the pain, domestic flights for the holiday are 16 percent cheaper than last year, despite rising jet fuel prices, according to Hopper.

For those traveling by land, expect the roads to be as crowded as airport security lines. AAA predicts that 39.7 million Americans will be taking a road trip between July 3 and July 8, an increase of more than 5 percent from last year.

Trains, buses and cruise ships will also see an increase in travel, up 5.8 percent from last year to 3.5 million passengers, according to AAA.

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29Jun 2018

Citigroup to refund $335 million to credit card customers – CNBC


Citigroup is agreeing to refund $335 million to a group of customers who may have been overpaying interest on their credit cards.

In a settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Citi will refund 1.75 million customers in overpaid interest by year-end.

Earlier this year, Citi disclosed that it had used a flawed methodology in determining whether credit card customers were eligible for an interest rate reduction on their cards, as required by the CARD Act, a federal law that governs the credit card industry.

Citi disclosed the flaw to regulators, including the CFPB, in 2017. The CFPB chose not to fine Citi for the flawed practice, citing the bank’s choice to self-report the problem to regulators and was in the process of refunding customers.

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29Jun 2018

Schnucks Dropping Fuel-Rewards Program – Progressive Grocer



06/28/2018

Schnuck Markets Inc. will be discontinuing its fuel-rewards program this summer in favor of a new grocery-based rewards program that’s still in development.

“In August, we will be replacing our fuel program with a new customer-rewards program that we think will be even more beneficial to our customers and save them more money,” Paul Simon, spokesman for the St. Louis-based grocery store chain, told the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette.

The new program “will involve groceries in our stores,” Simon told the newspaper.

When contacted by Progressive Grocer for further details, Simon said, “All I can say at this time is stay tuned.”

Schnucks’ fuel-rewards program allowed customers to save 5 cents per gallon purchased at Schnucks-branded gas stations for every $25 spent at the grocery store.

The fuel program will continue until Aug. 1, after which consumers will have 90 days to redeem their fuel rewards. Schnucks plans to alert customers about the change and how to register for the new program in stores, at gas pumps and by email.

Unlike the fuel-rewards program the new program will be available at all Schnucks stores, Simon noted.

Founded in 1939, Schnucks operates about 100 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. It ranks as No. 31 on Progressive Grocer’s 2018 Super 50 list of top grocers in the United States.

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29Jun 2018

What It's Really Like to Travel With Alzheimer's – Condé Nast Traveler


For those who love to explore the world, a diagnosis of memory loss can be devastating—and interpreted as a sentence to stay home. Yes, travel isn't for everyone with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a memory issue that often leads to Alzheimer’s, or Alzheimer’s itself, especially in the disease’s later stages, when overstimulation can contribute to stress, anxiety, and confusion. But for many people for whom travel is an integral part of life, continuing to do just that can be a means to keep up normalcy—and maintain their passions and hobbies.

“To be a good traveler, you have to be curious,” says 70-year-old Carol Poole, who was diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's five years ago and who has since spent time in Thailand and Cambodia, and just returned from Abacos, in the Bahamas, by boat. “I am that.”

Curiosity benefits the brain, too. “From a general brain health perspective, anything that is stimulating to the mind is generally good,” says Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. The “what” of that stimulation varies by person, of course, but visiting museums, learning new cultures, or trying new foods can—for those who enjoy those activities—maximize quality of life. “Mental stimulation is thought to be beneficial for thwarting off the rapid progression of the disease," he says.

For Poole, who used to travel solo but now more frequently goes on trips with her husband and children, travel is just that. “New places and experiences are pleasant challenges for my mind," she says.

Like they do for anyone who travels, trips vary in scope and size for people with Alzheimer's or MCI.

This fall, 75-year-old Darrell Foss of Eagan, Minnesota, will paddle throughout Canada's Maritime region on a guided group trip. Foss was diagnosed with MCI in 2015. “My whitewater trips have come to an end—I just can’t think fast enough to paddle whitewater—but the water is still very relaxing to me,” says the retired CPA and adjunct college professor. Foss and his wife, Mary, have traveled extensively internationally—Paris, Madrid, Gibraltar, and all over Switzerland—since his diagnosis. Mary says she thinks talking about photos they take (churches in Barcelona, the Great Wall) and interacting with new people they meet on their travels help maintain her husband’s mind. Darrell agrees.

"Life continues on. It doesn’t stop because you have a disease."

But the question lingers: Despite the benefits, why travel if there’s a chance that someday, you might not remember your trip at all?

“It’s the joy of being there. I live in the moment. I do what I need to do and what I want to do every single day,” says 63-year-old Pam Montana of Danville, California, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. A longtime Intel exec, Montana found that visiting company factories in China, Japan, Manila, and Malaysia kickstarted a love of travel years ago. Montana has booked her fourth trip to Florence for the end of the summer.

“Even if I'm not able to remember where we ate a meal, I don’t know if I will forget the experience and the joy of being with friends or getting a first-class upgrade,” she says. Keeping a detailed journal also helps Montana re-experience what it was like to be in a place: the feelings, the foods, the fun. She recently found one from 15 years ago. “I wrote down every drink we had, every restaurant we went to, every meal we ate. I read every word. It was so wonderful,” she says.

Making memories also matters for other people, says Poole, whose two sons have developed her love of travel: “Even though I won’t remember, when we get to those nasty bits at the end, I am leaving a legacy of travel adventure memories, made with those I love.” For travel closer to home, Poole's husband has also built her a tiki bar in their backyard; an oasis when they can no longer travel, meant to replicate the Caribbean islands (she's been to most of them).

Of course, traveling with MCI or Alzheimer's requires accommodations, and anyone who does so should plan extensively, communicate with their doctor, and go with the appropriate support—think a guided small group (Darrell and Mary use EF Go Ahead Tours) or an identification bracelet with the person’s name and relevant phone numbers on it, in the event of separation. Poole, Foss, and Montana have all, in large part, delegated planning duties, including making reservations and booking hotels, to their partners. The Alzheimer’s Association also notes it's important to alert hotels and airlines of any specific needs, and to have a bag of essentials on hand (including snacks, water, and a travel itinerary).

But an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can also lead to other changes in the way people travel. Montana and her husband, for example, used to compromise—sure, we can go there; okay, it's your turn to choose—but now, most decisions lean in her favor. "We make conscious decisions about where we’re going, who we’re going to go with, and how long we’re going to stay there, and I have full veto power," she says.

Adopting a more leisurely pace (lingering in Tuscany a few days longer before heading back to the city, taking a flight that doesn't require you to wake up with the sun) is essential, too. Time zone changes, higher altitudes, or dehydration can bother anyone, but with brain dysfunction, symptoms can crop up more rapidly, Petersen notes.

But, within the right constructs, for someone who wants to continue seeing the world and be reminded of where they've been, there’s a case to be made for the now. You'll enjoy travel more when your brain is functioning the best that it can, which—for people with MCI or Alzheimer's—is sooner than later. “Life continues on,” says Mary Foss. “It doesn’t stop because you have a disease. We live our life the way we have in the past, with some added changes. You just have to keep on moving.”

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The Alzheimer’s Association provides many resources on how to travel safely with the disease.

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29Jun 2018

Hyatt's New Rewards Credit Card: Why the World of Hyatt Credit Card Is Worth It – Condé Nast Traveler


The new World of Hyatt Credit Card launches today, a new rewards card from Chase and Hyatt that’s a genuine improvement on the hotel brand’s previous offering. The updated card earns users more on Hyatt purchases than ever before, adds two new bonus categories (meaning you rack up points faster), and lets World of Hyatt members earn status based on everyday spending, something that wasn’t previously possible. Bottom line: If you stay at Hyatt hotels with any frequency, you should seriously consider it.

The new card’s main earning features include:

  • 4 points per $1 spent on Hyatt stays and at participating restaurants
    and spas.
  • 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on airline tickets purchased
    directly from the airline (as opposed to sites like Expedia).
  • 2 points per $1 spent on fitness club and gym memberships.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on public transit and commuting, including ride-share
    services like Lyft and Uber.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

The offer of four points per dollar spent at Hyatt is an upgrade from the brand's previous Chase card, the aptly named Hyatt Credit Card, which earned three points per dollar on hotel spending. Fitness club and commuting are entirely new points-earning categories; Hyatt maintained two-for-one earning on restaurants, a nice perk.

As an added sweetener, the new World of Hyatt Credit Card offers a signup bonus of 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening an account. You'll get another 20,000 points if you spend $6,000 total within the first 6 months. That's useful if you want to redeem your points for a stay at a Category 7 property like the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme or have your own Lost in Translation moment at Park Hyatt Tokyo; both of those properties run 30,000 points per night.

Even with all the perks, travelers who aren’t major Hyatt loyalists should consider this card a compliment to—not a replacement for—cards that offer more flexible programs, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard. But for an annual fee of $95, compared to their old card's $75 annual fee, frequent Hyatt guests stand to earn a lot more for their loyalty by picking up the new World of Hyatt Credit Card.

Those travelers who are Hyatt devotees have yet another reason to pick it up: Along with better bonuses, the World of Hyatt Credit Card helps you earn elite Hyatt status, whereas the old card didn't. You’ll start with automatic Discoverist status, the second of four membership levels that come with perks like 2 p.m. late checkout and dedicated check in lines.

The World of Hyatt Credit card also gives you:

  • 5 qualifying night credits every year
  • 2 qualifying night credits after every $5,000 in spend on the card

That makes it easier to reach the third status tier—Explorist—which requires 30 qualifying nights in a year and comes with further perks, like better room upgrades and club lounge passes. (Globalist status, the highest tier, comes with suite upgrades upon availability and 4 p.m. late checkout; it’s available after 60 qualifying nights a year.)

Two last notes: All World of Hyatt members already earn five points on all Hyatt purchases, and having either card means you'll earn a total of eight or nine points per dollar spent. Both cards give you a free night each anniversary year at a Category 1-4 Hyatt property, too.

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