Monthly Archives: January 2019

20Jan 2019

Solid Wager Rewards Backers At 5-1 In Toboggan – Horse Racing News – Paulick Report

Gary Barber’s Solid Wager lived up to his name with a last-to-first rush to capture the 126th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Toboggan at odds of 5-1 on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The 8-year-old Birdonthewire gelding, previously conditioned by Peter Miller, shipped in from California and made a tremendous Big A debut for new trainer Chris Englehart.

Leaving from the outside post in a compact field of five under Jose Lezcano, Solid Wager settled at the back of the pack in the seven-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward as Skyler’s Scramjet, being stalked by Colonel Sharp and Gold for the King, marked the opening quarter-mile in 22.75 seconds on the fast main track.

Skyler’s Scramjet, who captured the Grade 3 Tom Fool here last year, maintained his lead into the turn through a half-mile in 45.81 as Gold for the King, the 3-2 mutuel favorite, loomed large in the three-path with Bal Harbour looking for a rail run.

Solid Wager, travelling wide late in the turn under Lezcano, was full of run down the lane as Skyler’s Scramjet put away the early challengers, but had no answer for the California shipper who earned a 1 1/2-length score in a final time of 1:23.95. Skyler’s Scramjet completed the exacta, 1 3/4-lengths the better of Gold for the King. Bal Harbour and Colonel Sharp completed the order of finish.

Englehart said he was pleased with the trip engineered by Lezcano.

“I thought it was a great race for him. He really got a great ride. Jose put him in a perfect spot throughout,” said Englehart. “Coming into the race we figured there might be a lot of speed for him to chase down and Jose really worked out a good trip for him where he could stalk and get the victory.”

Lezcano said that Solid Wager ran to his past performances.

“He’s a very nice horse and the race set up good for him. The first quarter went fast and after he was backing up a little. I asked him near the three-eighths to pick it up,” said Lezcano. “I had watched a few replays and it looked like he is more comfortable coming [off the pace]. He finished strong.”

The California-bred Solid Wager, a three-time winner of the Cary Grant at Del Mar, made the grade in the 2016 edition of the Grade 3 Midnight Lute at Santa Anita. He was making just his second start in New York, having previously finished eighth in the 2017 renewal of the Grade 1 Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.

Englehart said Solid Wager, who joined the barn after a good third in an optional claiming event at Santa Anita on New Year’s Day, could make his next start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool, a six-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward, slated here for March 9.

“He’s been with us for about three weeks now. He shipped to us just after his last race at Santa Anita. I’ll certainly speak to Mr. [Gary] Barber and see where he’ll want to go following this win, but the Tom Fool certainly might be a good spot and one we’ll consider,” said Englehart.

Solid Wager, bred in California by Madera Thoroughbreds, banked $55,000 in victory while improving his record to 11-8-6 from 49 career starts. He paid $12.20.

Live racing continues on Sunday at Aqueduct with an eight-race card highlighted by the 148th edition of the Ladies Handicap. First post-time is 12:50 p.m.

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20Jan 2019

Winter storm disrupts travel across U.S. – CBS News

Dangerous winter weather slams U.S.

A large, powerful and dangerous winter storm is taking aim at about one-third of the nation this weekend. It rapidly moved from the Central Plains to the Midwest and is moving toward the Northeast and New England. Some northern areas of New England could see up to 18 inches of snow.

The storm is expected to drop snow, sleet, freezing rain and ice in many places. After that, temperatures are expected to turn bitterly cold.

Follow along below for updates:

​Fast facts:

  • States of emergencies declared in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
  • 11,065 flights delayed Saturday, 2,512 flights canceled across U.S., according to
  • Amtrak is operating on a modified service in several states. (Full listing)
  • 13,204 power outages in Ohio, according to local utility companies.

Slick road leads to 15-vehicle Missouri pileup

A 15-vehicle crash has blocked a section of Interstate 55 in southeastern Missouri as snow from a massive winter storm swept through the area and slicked roads.

The Missouri Department of Transportation issued the news of the pileup near Ste. Genevieve on its Twitter page around 4 p.m. Saturday. The department says the interstate was blocked because of the crash, which included a responding firetruck. Motorists were urged to find an alternate route. There was no immediate word on injuries.

Transportation officials said crews hoped to clear the interstate’s lanes within a few hours, but said snowfall was slowing that work.

Officials say many roads in Missouri have been slicked over with ice from rain earlier in the day before conditions turned to snow and plummeting temperatures.

Plane skids from runway at Chicago airport

A United Airlines plane has skidded off a runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport amid snowy and icy weather. Chicago fire officials say the incident occurred Saturday morning. No injuries were reported. The flight came into the airport from Phoenix and 129 people were on the plane.

A massive winter storm has brought up to 10 inches of snow to some parts of the Midwest and is expected to hit the Northeast on Sunday.

The storm prompted the cancellation of nearly 1,000 flights at Chicago’s airports on Saturday. The average delay at O’Hare International Airport was nearly an hour on Saturday afternoon.

Winter storm doesn’t stop some Midwesterners

Many people across the Midwest woke up to see a coating of snow or ice on Saturday. Areas where the storm had already moved out by midday faced bitter cold and strong winds.

Some Midwesterns didn’t let it keep the indoors. Celeste Tremmel was outside in Detroit on Saturday training for a marathon. The 56-year-old chugged slowly through the several-inch-deep snow.

“When you run a marathon, you run no matter the weather,” she said.

Tremmel said running in snow is “like running in sand, so you have to go a lot slower.”

Connecticut governor to hold news briefing

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont held a news briefing Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET to update residents as the state prepares for the storm.

Lamont announced on Saturday that he will “partially activate” Connecticut’s Emergency Operations Center starting at 6:00 p.m. to monitor storm conditions.

“Forecasts are showing a range of accumulating snow, sleet, and freezing rain,” his office said in a news release Saturday.

1,600 plows being deployed across NYC

Salt spreaders are hitting the streets as the Tri-State area prepares for the winter weather headed its way, CBS New York reported.

About 700 spreaders and 1,600 plows will be deployed this weekend across New York City. Extra precautions are being taken to make sure the city is better prepared than it was just a few months ago, when thousands of drivers were stalled in traffic all night during a minor snowstorm.

This time, public works and utility crews were getting prepared on Friday.

Officials warn of flight disruptions

Officials have warned of flight disruptions at airports, as well as possible changes in train schedules.

By Saturday morning, 1,135 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were canceled for Saturday, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport reported that airlines there canceled nearly 470 flights “due to overnight snow and strong winds expected throughout the day.” It advised travelers to get updates from airlines.

Amtrak canceled some trains Saturday from Chicago to Washington and New York and between New York and Boston and Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Chicago is forecast to receive as much as 8 inches by Saturday and wind gusts in the Chicago area are expected to reach 35 mph.

N.J. and Pennsylvania declare states of emergency

On Friday, New Jersey and Pennsylvania declared states of emergency.

“This storm has the potential to deliver every, every winter weather option that mother nature has,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe said at a news conference.

In New Jersey, the state of emergency will go into effect at noon Saturday. “Our top priority is the safety of New Jerseyans, and we urge residents to stay off the roads and prepare for potential power outages,” said Gov. Phil Murphy.

Winter storm warnings issued for the weekend

The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings for the weekend from the Dakotas across the Great Lakes states and into New England. It warned that conditions in the Northeast “could approach blizzard criteria.”

The National Weather Service in Albany, New York, said snow could fall at a rate of 1 to 3 inches an hour, creating “difficult to impossible travel conditions” in areas. Ice was also a possibility in some areas in the path of the storm, which was forecast to dump up to 2 feet of snow.

In New York City, the worst of the storm is expected from Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, with snow accumulations of 3-6 inches followed by rain that could turn to ice as temperatures drop later Sunday. Single-digit temperatures could last into Monday.

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19Jan 2019

How to Use Rewards to Fly to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII – NerdWallet

If you’re lucky enough to be going to the Super Bowl, you might want to offset that expensive game ticket with some free travel.

Super Bowl LIII takes place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, so the good news is there is plenty of service to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In fact, it’s the busiest airport in the country, with Delta headquartered there and budget carriers Southwest and JetBlue ramping up service.

But what are your best options for miles and points travel, and is there even availability with the game only two weeks away?

Round-trip domestic flights can cost at least 25,000 miles for an economy seat. But reward availability may be limited from your city on game day, especially if your team has made it this far. Or you may be paying a premium in miles for limited seats. Delta’s mileage rates for flights from cities where teams have a good shot of making it to the Super Bowl are in the six-figure range. In that case, fixed-value points earned from Barclays or Capital One credit cards might be the way to go as they let you buy any available ticket or hotel room.

We took a look at a few routes sure to be popular with fans. At the time of this writing, it is down to four NFL teams: the New England Patriots, the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs. The final two teams will be decided this weekend, but flights and hotel rooms have been quickly filling up.

From Boston to Atlanta to cheer on the Patriots

The New England Patriots might be the team most expect to get to the Super Bowl. Delta fares on the nonstop flight were around $320 round trip from Feb. 2 – 4, while American offered one-stop flights starting at $410. Delta award flights, however, cost a whopping 147,000 miles plus $11.20 in taxes.

American still has availability at the rate of 12,500 miles each way for travel Saturday to Monday, but if you want to fly in Friday or leave on Sunday after the game the one-way ticket is 25,000 – 75,000 miles.

It will cost 20,000 miles and $86.20 in taxes and fees to fly from Boston to Atlanta on United on the Saturday before the game. Getting home on Sunday or Monday is currently priced at 12,500 miles with the same amount of fees.

Flight deals for Saints, Rams and Chiefs fans

Spirit Airlines and Delta have the best fares for the flight from New Orleans. There are still fares in the $250 – $300 range available, but again, it might be best to use fixed-value points from your rewards credit card as Delta wants 134,000 miles for the flight.

Spirit is also offering the lowest rate at $292 from Los Angeles to Atlanta if you’re a Rams fan hoping your team makes the cut. American is the best bet for mileage redemption. They have fares of 12,500 miles each way whether you are flying out on Friday, Saturday or game day.

And if you’re betting on the Kansas City Chiefs, Delta offers the lowest priced cash fare from Missouri to Atlanta at $485. But again, it will cost you 150,000 miles if you want to fly in the day before and fly out the day after.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
9 cheap things to do in Atlanta during Super Bowl weekend
NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards
This strategy is how I started earning major travel rewards

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19Jan 2019

7 Smart Accessories to Pack for Smoother Travels in 2019 – Travel+Leisure

| Travel + Leisure

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19Jan 2019

This Week In Credit Card News: How To Stop Tricky Recurring Charges; Consumers Prefer Mailed Bills – Forbes

Mastercard Won’t Let Companies Automatically Bill You After Free Trials

We’ve all made the mistake of starting a free trial and forgetting to cancel it before the billing period kicks in. Now, Mastercard will protect against this. The company announced a new policy requiring merchants to get authorization from you before hitting you with recurring charges for subscriptions. It will also require companies to provide you with monthly updates with pricing and clear instructions on how to cancel if you need it. [Engadget]

Even in this digital age, consumers prefer receiving their bills in the mail (Bloomberg News photo)BLOOMBERG NEWS

Consumers Prefer Paper Bills over E-Statements

We live in a digital world, but many consumers are sticking to tried and true financial practices. According to a new survey from Consumer Action, Americans prefer to receive bills and invoices by mail, rather than electronically. When asked how they would like to receive important communications from their service providers, 38% of consumers said by mail. Just 26% preferred digital communication (mostly email), while 36% said it would depend on the situation. The survey went on to address specific types of bills consumers might receive, and mailed communication won for every category. []

How Southwest Airlines’s Credit Cards Just Got Better

One of the best perks that Southwest Airlines offers its loyalty members and credit card holders is the Companion Pass—essentially a “buy one, get one flight for just $5.60 in taxes and fees” pass for a companion that lasts for an entire year. But you have to fly 100 qualifying one-way trips or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year for access to a Companion Pass. But travelers who sign up for the airline’s Rapid Rewards Plus, Premier, and Priority credit cards before February 11 can get a Companion Pass that’s good for the entire year. [Conde Nast Traveler]

New 24-Month Churning Restrictions from Bank of America

Bank of America recently announced a 24-month churning policy for a few of its most popular cards. Restrictions vary based on each card, but generally, cardholders will now be restricted to one card approval for a given card every 24 months. Bank of America’s new restrictions have evolved from their previous rules, which are still in effect, that limit cardholders to two Bank of America applications every two months, three every 12 months and four every 24 months. [Bankrate]

Signet Jewelers Fined $11 Million for Tricking Consumers

Signet Jewelers will pay $11 million in civil fines to settle a federal and New York state investigation that found the national jewelry retailer tricked consumers into signing up for store credit cards, credit insurance and related promotions and payment-protection products. The company also agreed not to contest the findings. The company disclosed in a regulatory filing that it will pay $10 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and $1 million to New York state. [Akron Beacon Journal]

Square Unveils New Debit Card for Small Business Customers

Square announced a new debit card for small-business owners, a move that enables the company to further participate in the economics of payment transactions. With the Square Card, which is free to obtain and use, business owners will be able to spend their Square balances immediately in stores and online. Previously, those who used Square for payment processing had to wait several days for their funds to transfer to their bank accounts, or else they could pay a small fee for instant access to their money. Square earns transaction fees at the time sellers make their purchases with the card. [MarketWatch]

Even Prisons Accept Mobile Payments in China’s Cashless Society

You’re an inmate at a Beijing prison. You run out of toothpaste, so you decide to buy a new tube at the commissary. But wait, you don’t have enough cash. Fear not. There might be money in your electronic wallet. Digital payment is ubiquitous in China, especially now that the technology is (literally) going behind bars, forming part of the Beijing government’s plan to build what it calls a “smart prison.” Using Alibaba’s payment app Alipay, family members can now pass money to a prisoner. [Tech In Asia]

Citigroup Reveals Female Employees Earn 29% Less Than Men Do

Citigroup offered an uncharacteristically blunt assessment of the pay gap between men and women in its global workforce, revealing that female employees earn 29% less than men do. The bank also reported that, among its U.S. employees, people of color earn 7% less than their white colleagues. [Bloomberg]

Marriott Unveils Name for its New Unified Loyalty Program: Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott International has a name for its new loyalty program since merging with Starwood Hotels and Resorts: Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott Bonvoy will replace three previous loyalty programs, Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. The three programs merged last August but this is the official naming of the unified product. The program will launch on Feb. 13. [USA Today]

Mobile Transactions Continue to Spike in Global Ecommerce

Mobile transactions, particularly with smartphones, continue to grow globally when retailers promote their apps, according to a study by Criteo. Mobile transactions account for 40% in North America and 52% in Asia Pacific of all global transactions. Globally, retailers who actively promote their shopping apps have a high average of 63% of transactions conducted on mobile devices. Overall, in-app’s share of transactions is increasing. [Multi Channel Merchant]

Finance and Fido: Who’s Taking the Lead in Pet Payments?

The opportunity for banks and financial services firms, as well as venture capitalists, to serve the pet industry is massive and not being overlooked. Companies such as Synchrony Financial and Wells Fargo have repositioned their human health care credit card programs specifically to serve pet owners to finance their veterinarian bills. Food delivery companies and subscription meal services business have been created to cater to pet owners while venture capital firms have been funding millions to serve this burgeoning industry. [Payments Source]

Setting Expectations for Banking and Mobile Payments in 2019

The banking industry has been rocked by digital disruption. With customer expectations being set by experiences beyond financial services, banks have increasingly accelerated their digitalization in order to act on deep data-driven insights and deliver high-touch customer experiences. As we move into 2019, here are the top trends we can expect in the banking space. [Mobile Payments Today]

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18Jan 2019

Pokemon Go Limited Research Event (Tomorrow Only): Start Time, Research Rewards, And More – GameSpot

Niantic is kicking off a new type of event in Pokemon Go this weekend. On Saturday, January 19, the studio is holding the game’s first-ever Limited Research event, which will feature special Field Research tasks–and an opportunity to catch a new Shiny Pokemon–for a limited time.

Much like Pokemon Go’s monthly Community Days, the Limited Research event will only run for three hours. During that window of time, you’ll be able to receive special Limited Research tasks when you spin the Photo Disc at a PokeStop. These tasks can be completed at any time after you’ve obtained them, but they’ll only be distributed during the event hours, and you’ll only get one from each PokeStop you visit.

Every Limited Research task will culminate in an encounter with Feebas, the first form of the majestic Water Pokemon Milotic. Additionally, Niantic says you’ll have a chance of coming across a Shiny Feebas, making this the first time this particular Shiny will be available in the game. You can find the event hours for each region below.

On top of the Limited Research event, Niantic is holding a big Hoenn celebration in Pokemon Go right now. Until January 29, Gen 3 Pokemon will appear much more frequently in the wild. Moreover, you’ll have a chance of catching Shiny variants of Zigzagoon and Taillow, while any Shroomish you evolve into Breloom will learn the move Grass Knot.

The Gen 3 Legendaries Groudon and Kyogre have also returned as part of the Hoenn celebration, giving you another chance to add them to your collection. There are new Field Research tasks revolving around Gen 3 Pokemon as well, and new avatar items based on Team Aqua and Team Magma–the villainous teams from Ruby and Sapphire–are available in the game’s Style Shop.

Pokemon Go Limited Research Event Schedule

The Americas and Greenland

  • 11 AM – 2 PM PT
  • 2 PM – 5 PM ET

Europe, Middle East, and Africa

  • 10 AM – 1 PM UTC


  • 12 PM – 3 PM JST (January 20)

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18Jan 2019

Travel industry fears damage from a long government shutdown – Star Tribune

America’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, is a blur of activity on the best of days. But an extra layer of anxiety gripped the airport Friday, the eve of a three-day holiday weekend. The partial government shutdown — the longest ever — has thinned the ranks of federal workers who staff airport security lines. And some travelers had braced for the worst.

“I have a 3 o’clock flight, and I arrived at 10:15 a.m.,” Beth Lambert said while waiting to check in at a Delta Air Lines counter as her 5-year-old, Michael, rode around on his wheeled bag like a scooter. “We’re going to be hanging out for a while.”

The scene at most of the nation’s airports has so far been marked more by concerned passengers showing up early than by missed flights. Longer lines are evident at some airports. But delays resulting from a rise in federal security screeners calling in sick have been slight.

Yet concern is quickly growing. President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress remain far apart over Trump’s insistence on funding for a wall along the Mexican border as the price of reopening the government. With the two sides trading taunts and avoiding talks, travel industry analysts and economists have been calculating the potential damage should the shutdown drag into February or beyond.

Airlines and hotels would suffer. So would parks and restaurants that cater to travelers. And, eventually, the broader U.S. economy, already absorbing a trade war with China and a global economic slowdown, would endure another blow.

The travel and tourism industries generate about $1.6 trillion in U.S. economic activity — one-twelfth of the economy — and one in 20 jobs, according to the Commerce Department. Macroeconomic Advisers says it now expects the economy to expand at just a 1.4 percent annual rate in the first three months of this year, down from its previous forecast of 1.6 percent, because of reduced government spending during the shutdown.

America’s air-travel system will face its sternest this weekend, which coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, a federal holiday. The Transportation Security Administration predicts it will screen over 8 million passengers between Friday and Monday, up 10.8 percent from last year’s MLK weekend. And it will do so with fewer screeners. On Thursday, the TSA said 6.4 percent of screeners missed work — nearly double the 3.8 percent rate on the same day in 2018.

A TSA spokesman said the agency was offering overtime to screeners for this weekend, though those workers wouldn’t be paid — for their regular pay or for overtime— until the shutdown eventually ends.

On top of potentially longer airport security lines this weekend, a blast of winter weather could snarl travel this weekend in the Midwest and Northeast.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, home to Delta Air Lines, has likely been the hardest hit airport. Delta said this week that the shutdown will cost it $25 million in January because fewer federal employees and contractors will be flying. By contrast, United Airlines, which has a substantial presence around Washington, D.C., said it hasn’t felt much impact yet.

But the airlines fear that if the shutdown doesn’t end soon, more TSA agents will call in sick or quit. A shortage of screeners would cause security lines to swell. Air traffic controllers, who are also working without pay, say they, too, are short-staffed. If the controller shortage became severe enough, the government could restrict the number of flights, though some analysts think that’s unlikely.

“Luckily this is the low season — January is one of the weakest months of the year,” said Savanthi Syth, an airline analyst for Raymond James. “This spilling into February is a real concern. The risk is that the longer this drags out, it might cause some passengers to say, ‘I don’t want to deal with all the hassle, maybe I won’t take that trip.'”

Consumers are, in fact, taking a dimmer view of the economy, in part because of the shutdown. A measure of consumer confidence fell this month by the most in more than six years, according to the University of Michigan, which conducts the survey. If Americans were to cut back on travel and other discretionary spending, it would weaken consumer spending, the U.S. company’s primary fuel.

Laura Mandala, who runs a travel and tourism research firm, said the shutdown might discourage international travelers, too.

“These uncertainties will result in fewer conferences being booked,” Mandala said, leading to “convention and hotel staff layoffs, reduced schedules, resulting in less income for workers to spend in the local economy.”

Hotels are starting to feel the impact, particularly in the Washington, D.C., region but also in other cities with substantial federal workforces, such as San Diego, which has a large naval base.

In the Washington area, including its nearby suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, hotel revenue plunged 26 percent in the second week of January compared with the same period last year, according to STR, a travel research firm. That’s much steeper than the 8 percent decline that occurred nationwide.

Michael Bellisario, an analyst for investment bank R.W. Baird, suggested that other factors accounted for the most of the nationwide drop but said the shutdown almost certainly played a role.

“In no way is the government shutdown a positive for hotel demand and travel,” Bellisario said.

If the shutdown lingers and people see more reports of long TSA lines on television news, “they will say, ‘Oh wow, traveling is hard,’ and that impacts the hotel industry,” said Jan Freitag, a senior vice president at STR.

For now, though, the most visible impact has been at airports. One of the seven checkpoints at Houston’s main airport has been closed all week and will remain so indefinitely, a spokesman said. Miami closed one concourse during the afternoons and evenings last weekend. On the other hand, officials at airports in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami said they weren’t experiencing any problems.

The problems would emerge if the shutdown persists, and the damage would extend to the private companies that operate airport shops and restaurants.

Mike Boyd, an airport consultant in Colorado, noted that a pullback in travel would be felt most in airports that are heavily dependent on government employees such as Reagan National Airport outside Washington, Manhattan Regional Airport in Kansas, near the Army’s Fort Riley, and Watertown International Airport in upstate New York, near Fort Drum.

Federal employees going without pay — there are about 800,000 of them, including 420,000 who are still working — are already suffering, of course.

“We still have to make sure our kids eat, make sure to have a roof over their head,” said Shalique Caraballo, whose wife is a TSA worker in Atlanta. “We sweat in private and don’t let the kids see the struggle.”

Some in the airline industry and even in Congress have suggested that longer TSA security lines could exert enough pressure on politicians to break the stalemate that is keeping the government shuttered.

Others have all but lost hope.

“I would love to think that politicians understand that travel and tourism is an incredibly important gear in the economy,” said Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group, which owns and manages travel agencies, “but I don’t think that is really the rational discussion that is taking place in Washington.”

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18Jan 2019

This is the average credit card balance for the typical American – Quartz

People in the US hold over $1 trillion in credit card debt. Credit cards are the most essential source of day-to-day financing for millions of Americans. Yet little is known about the true demographics of who owns credit cards, how much they charge on them, and whether they pay their balances on time. The information we have is based on surveys, and people are notoriously bad at accurately reporting their finances.

A new study by Federal Reserve economist Joanna Stavins sets out to fix this problem. Every year since 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston conducts a nationally representative survey asking Americans how they pay for things. It includes a section on credit cards. In order to check the accuracy of their responses, Stavins compared respondents’ answers with administrative data from credit reporting agency Equifax,


Participants had to agree to share their data to be part of this. To account for people who declined, Stavins made some statistical adjustments to keep the results nationally representative.

Stavins found that people tend to overreport the number of credit cards they have, underreport their balances, and greatly undervalue their credit limits. But most importantly, by combining demographic data from the Fed’s survey with Equifax, we finally have accurate public data about how different groups of people use credit cards. The survey was conducted in 2015 and 2016.

The data show that whether a person owns a credit card diverges hugely by age, income, and education. Overall, 74% of adults have a credit card, but just 48% of those under 25 have one, compared with 87% who are 65 or over. The difference is even greater across education and income levels.

Credit card balances also vary hugely. While the average American maintains an average balance of $4,560, this is highly dependent on age. Balances are relatively low for the young, about $2,340 for those under 25, but grow as people get into middle age, reaching over $6,000 for people 45-54, before falling as they get older. At the peak of a person’s earning power, typically in middle age, they are given larger credit limits from card companies.

Finally, the analysis estimated the share of people who have “revolving” credit card debt—meaning they don’t pay off their balance in full at the end of the month. Stavins found that 44% of adults have revolving credit, and these people typically have an outstanding balance of $6,600. Revolvers are generally poorer and less educated than the typical American.

It is worrisome that financially strapped Americans are incurring high interest payments on credit cards that reduce their already modest incomes, writes Stavins. Yet she also notes that credit cards offer the poor a source of funds that may help them through tough times that would otherwise be worse.

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18Jan 2019

How A-listers fly in and out of LAX: Frequent flyer tries the $3k-a-go ‘Private Suite’ – Daily Mail

How A-listers tackle LAX: Frequent flyer tries the $3k-a-go ‘Private Suite’, which comes with its own customs check, terminal lounge and BMW to chauffeur you across the tarmac

  • The frequent flyer – who runs the God Save The Points flight tips blog – said the experience ‘ruined’ him 
  • He describes how he was escorted to the terminal on arrival by an agent ‘who looked Secret Service’
  • The other people in his customs queue totalled zero – and on departure he had a private suite to wait in

Ted Thornhill, Mailonline Travel Editor


If you’ve ever wondered how Hollywood stars negotiate Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – all can be revealed.

A frequent flyer experienced the wonders of the airport’s ultra-exclusive ‘The Private Suite’ – a $3,000-a-go service that allows the rich and famous to pass through the airport without enduring pesky customs queues.

The service even includes a chauffeur-driven BMW to and from the plane and the terminal building.

Frequent flyer Gilbert Ott (pictured), who runs the God Save The Points flight tips blog, used LAX's Private Suite - and he said it was an airport experience in a league of its own

Frequent flyer Gilbert Ott (pictured), who runs the God Save The Points flight tips blog, used LAX’s Private Suite – and he said it was an airport experience in a league of its own

The frequent flyer – London-based Gilbert Ott, who runs the God Save The Points flight tips blog – said that the experience was so good it ‘ruined’ him.

He describes on his blog site that after touching down at LAX a Private Suite agent ‘looking like Secret Service’ was waiting for him and his wife on the jet bridge.

From there they descended by elevator to a BMW 750 sedan that drove them across the tarmac to the Tom Bradley International Terminal where they went through private U.S immigration.

Mr Ott and his wife relaxed in this private suite when they departed

Mr Ott and his wife relaxed in this private suite when they departed

Mr Ott and his wife relaxed in this private suite when they departed

Mr Ott wrote: ‘My wife, an Esta user, spoke to the agent, filled out all the usual forms and received the same formalities as anyone, with one significant difference – she was the only one in line. The only one.’

The experience on the way back was equally memorable.

Mr Ott wrote: ‘When our Los Angeles trip came to a close we rang the Private Suite as requested to inform them of our inbound to the facility. Arrival at The Private Suite felt like being in a Jason Bourne film. A heavily armed guard radioed our arrival to the team at the Suite, confirmed our info and the gate was lifted.

‘In less than a minute we were in a private suite equipped with everything under the sun.’

Pictured is the bathroom in Mr Ott's private suite, which was stocked with all manner of pharmacy products

Pictured is the bathroom in Mr Ott's private suite, which was stocked with all manner of pharmacy products

Pictured is the bathroom in Mr Ott’s private suite, which was stocked with all manner of pharmacy products

Mr Ott, a keen wine drinker, was impressed with the wines on offer in his suite. They were all highly rated on the Vivino app

Mr Ott, a keen wine drinker, was impressed with the wines on offer in his suite. They were all highly rated on the Vivino app

Mr Ott, a keen wine drinker, was impressed with the wines on offer in his suite. They were all highly rated on the Vivino app

Their suite had sweets, fine wines (each rated at least 4.1 on the Vivino wine app), pharmacy products, chargers, a TV and a bathroom.

And total privacy. Even the TSA screening is private, whether or not other Private Suite guests are on the same flight.

Mr Ott wrote: ‘Here’s what blew my mind: even if David Beckham and I were on the same flight, they’d stagger our departures by about 3 minutes, so that we wouldn’t have to awkwardly go through security together. When they say “private” they mean PRIVATE.’

After being driven to his plane across the tarmac in another BMW, Mr Ott concluded that while he’d had some ‘very crazy’ airport experiences in the past, the Private Suite was ‘in another league’. 

Visit for more from Gilbert Ott.  

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18Jan 2019

I've had all three of Chase's main Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards — here's how I rank them from best to worst – Business Insider

The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network.

The Points Guy

Whether you’re new to travel rewards or an avid points-collector, Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program offers valuable points that are quick to earn and a breeze to redeem and transfer. Getting the right Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card (or two) will help you travel more for less this year.

What are Chase Ultimate Rewards?

Ultimate Rewards is Chase’s ultra-flexible, high-value travel rewards program. If you have a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can use them to make travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

This portal allows you to redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, rental cars, tours, cruises, and more. You can even book once-in-a-lifetime experiences using your Ultimate Rewards points. Each point has a flat-rate value of 1¢ each, but holding any of the three cards below will bump each point’s value up to 1.25¢ to 1.5¢ for travel purchases.

However, arguably the best feature of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program is that your points can be transferred to a list of partner airline and hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. This can squeeze upwards of 4¢ out of each point if you’re lucky enough to spot a high-value redemption opportunity.

Airline transfer partners include Aer Lingus, British Airways, Air France KLM, Iberia Plus, JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United, and Virgin Atlantic. You can also transfer your points to hotel partners, which include IHG, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Hyatt.

Altogether, this makes Chase’s Ultimate Rewards one of the most beloved programs in the credit card rewards game. I’ve been able to use my points to book travel experiences I never could have afforded otherwise, including stays in the Park Hyatt New York, a five-star hotel near Central Park that goes for $1,000/night, and the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo, a resort on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast that goes for $600/night.

I’ve accumulated over 250,000 Ultimate Rewards points by opening all of Chase’s main Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards, which is worth at least $3,750 in travel expenses. Here’s how I would rank all three cards.

Read more: 10 lucrative credit card deals new cardholders can get in January 2019 — including the best Southwest offer we’ve ever seen

chase sapphire preferred reviewThe Points Guy

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining
  • 25% bonus on travel redemptions made through the Ultimate Rewards portal
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year

Don’t get me wrong, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is an excellent rewards credit card. If the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the worst of Chase’s main Ultimate Rewards credit cards, that only speaks to the quality of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program.

You’ll get a generous sign-up bonus that’s worth at least $625 in travel if you can hit the minimum spend requirements. This is probably the best feature of the card, although getting 2 points for every $1 you spend on eating out or traveling and a 25% bonus on travel redemptions are also lucrative perks for frequent travelers.

The low annual fee is also waived the first year, so trying it out costs you nothing. But ultimately, the sign-up bonus is this card’s most exciting feature. I held onto this credit card for a year before realizing I could get a lot more value by upgrading to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Read more: 5 reasons the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a powerhouse within the increasingly competitive credit card space

Chase cardChase/Instagram

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining
  • 50% bonus on travel redemptions made through the Ultimate Rewards portal
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • Complimentary airport lounge access
  • $450 annual fee

The list of premium perks and lucrative credits on the Chase Sapphire Reserve makes this one of the most valuable credit cards on the market, so don’t let the annual fee scare you away.

The easy-to-use $300 annual travel credit alone knocks the annual fee down to $150, which is very easy to make up for with the rest of the card’s benefits. The sign-up bonus is the same as the one offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but the 50% redemption bonus makes it worth $750 instead of $625. Add the extra points you’ll earn on travel and dining and the free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application, and the card has paid for itself.

My favorite Chase Sapphire Reserve feature, though, is easily the free Priority Pass Select membership, which will get you free access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. This pass will make you actually want to book flights with long layovers just so you can take advantages of fancy lounges with free booze and hors d’oeuvres. Priority Pass has even added a number of airport restaurants to its program where you’ll get a $28 dining credit each visit, which has saved me hundreds on airport dining.

Ink_Business_Preferred_042 1 e1531287443665The Points Guy

  • 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and select advertising purchases
  • Unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 25% bonus on travel redemptions made through the Ultimate Rewards portal
  • $95 annual fee

Given that the Sapphire cards tend to get the most attention, this might be Chase’s most underrated credit card.

There are a lot of reasons to love the Chase Ink Business Preferred, not least of which is the fact that it offers the most valuable sign-up bonus of any Chase credit card. In fact, I signed up during a limited-time promotion and earned 120,000 Ultimate Rewards points from the sign-up bonus alone — worth at least $1,500 in travel.

You’ll also earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel, just like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, instead of earning 3 points per $1 on dining as well, you’ll earn a bonus on purchases like shipping, utilities, and advertising. This can be a huge bonus for the self-employed and small business owners who have a lot of business-related expenses.

You won’t get the luxury perks and travel credits associated with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and you’ll only get a 25% bonus on travel booked through Chase’s portal rather than 50%. In exchange, though, you’ll only have to pay a low annual fee of $95.

This is a business credit card, which means you have to have a valid business in order to apply. That doesn’t mean you need to be operating a brick-and-mortar with 12 employees or even have a registered business, though. A valid business can be anything from the freelance work you do to side gigs like coaching and tutoring to selling items on Etsy and eBay.

One major perk of applying for a business rewards credit card is that the application and credit card activity won’t show up on your credit report. Instead, it will appear on a separate business credit report, which in turn will help you build your business credit score.

Pairing up Chase credit cards for maximum rewards

It’s wise to try out one of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards credit cards to make sure you enjoy the program before going all in. If, like me, you get a lot of value out of Ultimate Rewards points, the best way to earn a lot of points quickly is by pairing up multiple Chase credit cards.

I pair the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which I use for travel and dining purchases, with my Chase Ink Preferred, which I use for business purchases. This allows me to double-dip two of Chase’s most lucrative sign-up bonuses and earn 3 points per $1 on a wide range of purchases, all while being able to redeem my Ultimate Rewards points at the 50% bonus rate.

The most popular way to pair up Chase cards, though, is to pair one of the three cards mentioned above with one of their cash-back credit cards — the Chase Freedom or the Chase Freedom Unlimited — which earn bonuses on other spending categories. As long as you hold an Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card, you can convert your cash back to Ultimate Rewards points for increased value.

Finally, if you’re saving up points or miles for a hotel chain or airline that happens to be on Chase’s list of transfer partners, you can get a hotel or airline credit card as well to boost your points balance. Chase offers co-branded credit cards with Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, United, British Airways, Southwest, and more.

Read more: Southwest just announced an unheard-of deal for its credit cards — you’ll get the coveted Companion Pass simply by opening one

The bottom line

Don’t let annual fees or “business” designations scare you away from a rewards credit card. While the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the easiest choice, I’ve earned far more value from my Chase Ink Business Preferred and my Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Luckily, whether you’re looking to travel in style or want a basic rewards credit card, Chase offers a wealth of ways to both earn and redeem Ultimate Rewards points.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy

Click here to learn more about the Chase Ink Business Preferred from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy

Click here to learn more about the Chase Freedom from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy

Click here to learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy

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