Current Events and Blog

20Mar 2019

Frequent flyer: tales from the lost and found – Financial Times


My story last month of leaving my Kindle on a flight from Dubai prompted many readers to email me their experiences. As I read the messages, a map began to form. The further east you travelled, the greater were the chances of getting your goods back — often with astonishingly good grace.

There were some decent lost property services in the US and Europe, but more typical was solicitor Nicolas Greenstone’s account of leaving his Kindle on an easyJet flight from London to Athens. The airline denied all knowledge of it.

“This news induced near panic as my wife and I were heading for a seven-day cruise,” he wrote. His search for suitable English-language books in Athens ended in failure. “The prospect of a literary-free week was depressing. Happily, the cruise ship library catered well for Kindle losers.”

The Middle East and Asia were different. “The best place to lose something is Japan,” Aran Williams, a British immigrant to Sweden told me. After a two-week trip to Kanazawa, Kyoto and Tokyo with his wife and three daughters, the family took the train to Narita airport for the journey home. Williams walked up to the Japan Airlines check-in to present their passports. Except he had no passports; they had disappeared between the hotel and the airport.

“It was Saturday morning, and we were all due at school and jobs again on the Monday. The prospect of trying to visit consulates on Monday in Tokyo to gain temporary passports, find accommodation and new flights home made me nauseous. ‘How could I be so stupid?’ was my thought, and certainly that of the rest of the family.”

The JAL staff got onto the phones. A short while later they said the passports had been found. The airport train cleaners had handed them in. “This had all happened within 30 minutes of us getting off the train,” Williams said.

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Could anyone top that? Flying Emirates from Dubai to Singapore, Trudie Roberts, a professor at the Leeds Institute of Medical Education, left a notebook and papers she had been working on in the seat pocket. “The value to anyone else was nil but I was cross with my own absent-mindedness and the effort it would take me to recreate the ideas. More in hope than expectation I contacted the Emirates lost property section.” A week later, when she checked in for her return journey, the Emirates staffer at the counter frowned at her screen and picked up the phone. “I feared the worst — something wrong with my ticket or connection,” Prof Roberts wrote. “A moment later her colleague appeared with a sealed plastic envelope containing my notebook and papers.”

Only one western experience came close. It wasn’t an airline or airport but a New York cabbie. By the time Michael Garin realised he had left his iPad in a taxi, the cab had disappeared. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and no one at the Taxi & Limousine Commission answered the phone. The next week, Garin was telling his tale to yet another New York taxi driver. Did he still have his original cab receipt, the driver asked. He did. The driver handed him his own mobile phone and Garin was soon speaking to Commission, now staffed, and then to the original driver. Not only did the cabbie have the iPad; Garin was flying to Paris that evening and the taxi driver offered to meet Garin at the airport to hand it over.

So, if you’re the losing sort, choose your airline carefully — and keep your taxi receipts.

Follow Michael on Twitter @Skapinker or email him at michael.skapinker@ft.com. Read more about readers’ lost property nightmares here.

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20Mar 2019

Starbucks is Launching a New Rewards Program April 16 – Fortune


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20Mar 2019

President Obama Will Headline The Davos Of Travel Next Month In Spain – Forbes


Most people know the World Economic Forum, held each January in Davos, Switzerland, as the place the political, business and other leaders of society meet to shape global, regional and industry agendas. For the travel industry, which is responsible for more than one in 10 jobs and 10.4% of the world’s GDP, its version of the Swiss confab is its annual Global Summit, the next one that will take place in the Spanish city of Seville April 2 to 4.

The meeting is put on by the World Travel & Tourism Council, generally referred to as the WTTC, and while its conference may not get the same glaring media spotlight as Davos, there’s a good chance if your travels ever take you from one country to another, you’ve benefitted from the group’s work.

President Barack Obama will keynote the WTTC Global Summit in Seville, Spain next month.Screenshot

The WTTC’s history dates back to 1989 when the then CEO of American Express, James Robinson III, together with Robert Crandall of American Airlines, Frank Olson of The Hertz Corporation, the late Lord Colin Marshall of British Airways, Bill Marriott and several others realized too few people, particularly those in government, understood that the power of the industry, its importance to economies and its potential to improve the world.

In part that’s because at the time there was no central focal point for the travel industry. Various sectors – airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, tour operators, cruise lines and government ministries – each had their own segments, often at odds with each other. Travel – the business of getting there and Tourism – the business of being there, were generally dealt with as separate activities.

Industries, like aviation, were powerful lobbies on their own, and in many cases already had global, regional and national advocacy groups. Sometimes within the various industries, there wasn’t agreement. Some airlines supported concepts such as Open Skies, others didn’t.

In other words, it was like a rowboat with its participants not necessarily pulling in the same direction.

The group held its initial meeting in Paris. Henry Kissinger told the bosses that the travel sector’s size and status was not punching its weight with governments because it was too fragmented. By 1991, the WTTC was formed with its first AGM, the precursor of the Global Summit, held in Washington D.C.

With CEOs from 32 companies the initial objective was promoting basic awareness of travel and tourism’s contribution to the global and hence national economies, responsible growth – yes Green New Dealers – and reducing barriers to travel that would make it easy to be a global citizen.

Within five years, with the industry’s CEOs speaking in unison, the deep pockets of American Express, and the deft leadership of its first president, Geoffrey Lipman, a former aviation industry association bureaucrat, the industry had become a force to be reckoned with. It deliberately moved the positioning of the sector into the mainstream of global economic discourse and policymaking.

I recently caught up with Lipman, who says one key was WTTC produced dozens of easy to read reports, always focused on the size, scale, jobs and trade influence of the sector – always with the same numbers, always with the same message. He notes, it embarked on the green growth path early compared to many industries, engaging at the Rio Earth Summit and launching an Agenda 21 for Travel & Tourism.

It commissioned the first report on Fair Taxation from Lord Nicholas Stern (then a professor at the LSE) and issued the findings as a comic book to grab attention. And it slowly became recognized as a powerful voice for what it claimed was the world’s largest industry.

Lipman tells me, what differentiated WTTC was the laser-like concentration on its core message, the strength of its steadily growing membership and its insistence on being a CEO Forum, paralleling with the WEF. In fact, it formed a strong alliance with that body – ensuring that its messages began to be heard in the halls of Davos. Alliance was its catchword from the get-go – reinforcing not replacing the other industry and government organizations operating in the sector. Always seeking to add value and focus.

Economic research conducted with Wharton Econometric Forecast Associates put the WTTC’s claims into solid figures that politicians could see. The idea that you could tax tourists six ways to Sunday because they weren’t going to vote in your election was countered with hard numbers showing the impact of visitors, not just on direct jobs with airlines, hotels and car rental agencies, but the local businesses that were supported by travelers.

The Tourism Minister could now bring to his or her President or Prime Minister data on why it was good policy to support tourism. Finance Ministers could no longer scoff at travel, using it as a piggy bank, while giving incentives and tax breaks to other industries.

Next month in Seville, Barack Obama will headline the meeting, The line-up of speakers includes industry CEOs, including many from companies that weren’t around 30 years ago, as well as top political leaders of tourism from around the world.

Many of the issues they’ll discuss are more important than ever, such as extolling seamless global travel through the use of biometrics and digital identity in an era of heightened security concerns. They’ll also discuss how to prepare for the traveler of tomorrow as well as destination stewardship. Investment in community tourism and social entrepreneurship will be on the docket.

In addition to looking at how travel can more positively impact the communities we visit, executives will also tackle diversity and inclusion. They’ll also spotlight how increasing female employment plays a role in reducing poverty, sustaining economic growth, and supporting empowerment and independence.

A new report shows countries with the strongest Tourism GDP growth over the past decade enjoyed a significant improvement in the share of women’s employment in the sector. Turkey, Indonesia, Iran, China and Mexico are among the main beneficiaries.

One area of Travel & Tourism that is often missed, but in my mind, one of the industry’s strongest selling points, is represented with the speakers, if not the agenda. It’s the low barriers to entry from the standpoint of an individual.

For example, while the CEOs of large airlines, hotel groups and cruise lines govern companies employing more than 100,000 people in some cases with tens of billions of dollars in revenues, the industry is fertile ground for small businesses, even single person businesses.

While the CEOs of Virtuoso and Travel Leaders Group, who will be speaking, represent over $50 billion in annual travel sales, much of it is made up by small businesses, including clusters of independent contractors, who thanks to technology can generate well over $1 million in personal sales working as travel advisors. Many advisors work from home, cutting carbon emissions by reducing the need for office space or driving cars to work.

Unlike many industries that need factories and facilities, Travel & Tourism provides endless opportunities for entrepreneurs, often with little capital investment, for example, taking visitors on walking tours of their city and showing off their favorite places.

While there won’t be wall to wall cable news coverage from Seville as there is from Davos, next time you wait to cross the street in a big city, remember at least two or three people standing next to you are probably making a living from Travel & Tourism.

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20Mar 2019

Best credit cards for home improvement and gardening – Bankrate.com


Joshua Resnick/Adobe Stock

Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on the website are from companies from which this site receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or available credit card offers.

Information about credit cards and card offers is accurate as of the date of publication.

Home improvement isn’t cheap — according to The Spruce, even something as simple as a surface-level kitchen remodel could cost between $2,000 and $20,000. Add gardening into the mix and you’re looking at what could be a very expensive, but very rewarding, project. Your home is where you live, after all. It’s worth it to make your living space as comfortable and beautiful as possible. (Plus, the right home renovations can add a lot to your resale value.)

Combining your renovation project with one of the best credit cards for home improvement can help you earn rewards that’ll cut your overall costs. Using 0% intro APR credit cards can also help you finance your home or garden project interest-free — although you’ll want to make sure you pay off your balance before the 0% intro APR period runs out!

Here’s what you need to know about credit cards that will help you make your home and garden look their best. Credit cards for home improvement and gardening expenses can be a great idea (although we can’t say the same about signing up for that big-box home improvement store retail card).

Which credit cards have the best rewards for home improvement purchases?

Currently, the best credit card for home improvement purchases just might be the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. With this card, you’ll earn 3% cash back on one of six bonus categories of your choosing, including home improvement/furnishings. (The other categories are gas, online shopping, dining, travel, and drug stores.)

Along with 3% cash back in your choice category, you earn 2% cash back on grocery store/wholesale club purchases on the first $2,500 in combined purchases per quarter. You also get 1% cash back on all other purchases, a $150 bonus after making $500 in purchases in the first 90 days, and 0% intro APR on purchases (and balance transfers made in the first 60 days) for 12 billing cycles, followed by a regular variable APR of 16.24% – 26.24%.

Qualifying merchant categories in the home improvement and furnishings category include:

Home improvement

  • Architectural, engineering and surveying services
  • Building materials, lumber stores, carpentry
  • General contractor/residential building
  • Glass, paint, wallpaper stores
  • Hardware equipment and supplies

Gardening

  • Florist suppliers, nursery stock and flowers
  • Landscaping and horticultural services
  • Lawn and garden supply stores

You can see the full list of categories and qualifying merchants at the Bank of America website.

Be aware that you’ll need to set home improvement/furnishings as your 3% choice category when you get the card. You can change your category each month, online or through the mobile app, or leave it unchanged.

If you put all of your qualifying home improvement spending on a Bank of America Cash Rewards card as your 3% choice category, you could earn up to $75 cash back per quarter — plus the 1% cash back you’ll earn on all other purchases.

You’ll also get 12 billing cycles interest-free, so you could use this card to fund a large purchase, or a lot of small ones, and pay it off over time. Just remember to pay the entire balance before the intro offer expires and the regular APR (16.24% – 26.24% Variable) takes effect.

What about alternative cards?

Other candidates in the field of best credit cards for home improvement and gardening include:

Discover it® Cash Back

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories for up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, after activation.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Discover’s Cashback Match™ matches all the cash you earn in your first year as a cardmember, 0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers (then 14.24% -25.24% variable).

Chase Freedom:

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories for up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • $150 bonus after making $500 in purchases in the first three months.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (then 17.24% – 25.99% variable).

However, you’ll want to confirm that home improvement/gardening purchases are included in the bonus categories before signing up.

The Discover it Cash Back will not be offering home improvement as a rotating bonus category in 2019, although Amazon.com is on the Discover Cashback Calendar for October–December 2019. If Amazon is your go-to for home improvement and gardening shopping, the Discover card could be a good choice.

Chase has not yet announced its bonus categories for the last three quarters of 2019, so we don’t know yet whether home improvement will make the list.

Should you use credit cards to finance a big purchase?

If you’d like to use credit cards to finance a big home improvement purchase, such as buying new furniture for the master bedroom or renovating the bathroom, consider a 0% intro APR credit card. These credit cards give you a temporary interest-free grace period, which makes them ideal tools to help you finance a big expense.

However, as with all tools, carelessness could leave a mark. Putting a lot of purchases on a 0% intro APR credit card is a good idea only if you’re able to pay off that money before the intro period expires. Once that period ends, you’ll have to pay interest on any balance remaining on the card — and that’ll make an expensive project even more expensive.

Are department store credit cards worth it?

You might be tempted to put your home improvement or gardening purchases on a store credit card — especially if a cashier tells you that you can save 15% on everything you’ve just carted over to the register. Store credit cards do come with their own rewards, especially for loyal shoppers, but they also come with extremely high interest rates. If you don’t pay off the balance in full every month, you could end up paying a lot of money in interest. (Suddenly that 15% off deal doesn’t seem like such a bargain anymore.)

It’s entirely up to you whether to sign up for a credit card at that home improvement store you visit every weekend. Just keep in mind that a good rewards credit card generally comes with lower interest rates and a higher credit limit and can also earn you rewards on your big-box home improvement store shopping — as well the pizza you order after an afternoon of painting the living room, or the bottles of wine you buy for your housewarming party.

Store credit cards are fine when used responsibly, but you’ll have more options with a credit card that isn’t tied to a single department store.

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19Mar 2019

Use credit card rewards to help your love life — here's how to do it – Mashable


Love is priceless, but the right credit card helps too.
Disclosure

Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

Match and eharmony may have changed how 21st century couples meet, but a healthy love life still depends on spending time together. The thing is though, these dates often cost money. And when you’re on a budget, or simply looking to up your date night game, the right credit card can give you a much-needed boost. 

What credit card is the best for your love life? It all depends on your goals. Looking to earn rewards for a night on the town? There’s a credit card for that. Want to book a romantic getaway using hotel points or miles? You can find a credit card for that, too. Credit cards even offer perks that can help you book impossible dinner reservations or exclusive experiences.

Not sure what the best credit card is for your love life? We’ve rounded up the eight best credit cards for every stage of your relationship.


$200 worth of Uber ride credits each year • 60,000 point sign up bonus when you spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months • $200 in statement credits for airline expenses like checked bags or in-flight purchases • 5 points for every dollar spent on flights when booked through American Express Travel • 5 points for every dollar spent on prepaid travel when booked through American Express Travel

Yearly fee of $550 per year

The Bottom Line

If you and your love have VIP tastes and a VIP budget, The Platinum Card will help you find winning experiences. Plus it’s great for earning extra points on flights and hotels.

1. Platinum Card® by American Express

Great for earning extra points on flights and hotels, the best part of this card are the VIP perks — Uber, Coachella, Wimbledon, and more.

  • Pricing:
    Card must be paid in full each month. No foreign transaction fees. Late fee up to $38.
Want to wow your special someone with a peak experience? Credit card perks like exclusive seats (paid for with credit card reward points) may be the ticket to your date’s heart. 
Several brands including Chase, Citi, and American Express offer rewards cards that include perks like discounts on entertainment, preferred seating, and more to cardholders. But the Platinum Card® by American Express will help you dazzle a lover with a once in a lifetime experience.
People who hold the Platinum Card are eligible for American Express’s “By Invitation Only” experience passes. With this access you can buy VIP access to Coachella, or seats at center court for the Wimbledon tennis tournament. More perks? Cardholders get $200 worth of Uber ride credits each year (perfect for transporting your date) and a 60,000 point sign up bonus when you spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months.  You’ll also get statement credits for airline expenses like checked bags or in-flight purchase, not to mention access to The American Express Global Lounge Connection.


Earn 20,000 sign up bonus points (worth $200) when you spend $1,000 in your first three months • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees • Earn 10 points for every dollar you spend on select hotels

Interest rates on the card can soar to nearly 25% • Cashback rewards on everyday spending are low (1.25 points per dollar spent) • Capital One decides whether the card is a Visa Signature card (whch comes with the wine country perks) or just a typical Visa card

The Bottom Line

When nothing sounds better than a getaway to Sonoma, the VentureOne card is the best card for you. You’ll know you’re saving money on your tastings while you bond with the one you love.

2. VentureOne® from Capital One®

Find huge discounts at over 50 wineries around Sonoma County and pay no annual fee.

  • Pricing:
    0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months that your account is open. After that, rates increase to 14.24-24.24% 3% balance transfer fee Up to $38 late payment fee.
Imagine sipping wine and strolling through a Sonoma vineyard on a romantic getaway. If a tour through wine country sounds like the perfect way to spark your love life, the VentureOne® from Capital One® may be a great choice for you. In many cases, when you receive a VentureOne credit card with more than a $5,000 limit you’ll be eligible for Visa Signature benefits.
What does that mean for oenophiles and their romantic partners? With the VentureOne credit card (or other credit cards labeled Visa Signature or Visa Infinite) you can find huge discounts at over 50 wineries around Sonoma County. For example, you can buy one standard tasting and receive a complimentary tasting for free. You may also have savings on wine, reserve tasting, or wine and food pairings at certain wineries.
Earn 20,000 sign up bonus points (worth $200) when you spend $1,000 in your first three months with the card. On top of that, the card comes with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

4% cashback rewards on all your dining out and entertainment expenses • 2% cashback rewards on groceries • $500 sign up bonus when you spend $3,000 in your first three months • Free monthly subscription to Postmates Unlimited • Annual fee waived the first year

Only 1% cashback on most categories • Interest rates up to 25.74% • $95 annual fee

The Bottom Line

Earn money during date night. Just be sure to pay off the card in full each month: The rewards aren’t worth a nearly 25.74% interest rate.

Just getting to know a new partner? The classic dinner and a movie date is classic for a reason: it’s a great, low-pressure way to get to know someone new. Whether your budget is Applebee’s and a $2 movie matinee or Aquavit and a Broadway premier, you may as well earn cashback rewards for your spending. 
The best card for cashing in on dinner and a show is Savor® Rewards from Capital One®. With the Savor card, you’ll earn 4% cashback rewards on all your dining out and entertainment expenses. 
The cashback isn’t the only reason to use the Savor card. Cardholders gain exclusive access to hard-to-book reservations at top restaurants in New York City, Washington D.C., and Austin. These nearly impossible-to-book dining experiences are sure to wow your partner.
The Savor card isn’t just ideal for dining out, though. If you and your sweetheart have upgraded to intimate home cooked dinners for two (or a rotisserie chicken and a bottle of wine from Trader Joes), you’ll earn 2% cashback on all your grocery purchases. If you’re not skilled in the kitchen, you can also enjoy free Postmates delivery when you order with your Savor card. That’s right, the Savor card entitles you to free monthly subscription to Postmates Unlimited through December 2019.

30,000 point sign up bonus when you spend $3,000 in three months • Earn three points for every dollar spent on eating out, ordering in, gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals, and streaming services • No annual fee • 0% APR for 12 months

Interest rates as high as 27.24% after 12 months

The Bottom Line

Not every couple needs to spend time at clubs, shows, and bar-hopping. As long as you pay off the Propel in full each month, this is the perfect credit card for the couple that enjoys nothing more than Postmates, Netflix, and time alone (together).

Are you and your partner grannies at heart? Have you been claiming to be “practically 40” since you were 22 years old, just so you could avoid going out to bars? Couples don’t have to spend every moment out on the town to have a great love life. After a busy day of work, Netflix and chill sounds just right for some couples. And a weekend drive and hike in the mountains could be the ideal way for you to spend time with your partner.
With the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card, you can earn big rewards for the activities the two of you actually love. This card offers three points for every dollar you spend on ordering in (or eating out), streaming services, and gas. Cardholders also earn triple points on travel related activities like flights, car rentals, and hotels or homestays.
Best of all, this card that has no annual fee comes with a massive sign up bonus. When you spend $3,000 in the first three months, you’ll earn 30,000 bonus points. This translates to a $300 bonus which you can apply directly to your credit card statement.

0% financing for 15 months • $150 cash bonus • 1.5% cash back on all purchases

Interest rates jump after 15 months • Interest rates as high as 26.24%

The Bottom Line

Get help paying off the ring and get a $150 signup bonus and 1.5% cashback rewards to boot.

5. QuickSilver® from Capital One®

A 0% introductory APR, plus a $150 cashback bonus make this card a great option for paying down a big purchase.

  • Pricing:
    0% APR for 15 billing cycles (including balance transfers). No annual fee After 15 months. 16.24% to 26.24% APR
“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” So goes Billy Crystal’s famous line from When Harry Met Sally. 
Are you ready for the rest of your life to start right now? If the next step is popping the question, it’s time to start setting a budget for the ring. According to The Knot’s Jewelry and Engagement study, the average couple spends over $6,000 on an engagement ring. For average earners, it can take months or even years to save that kind of money. While engagement rings don’t have to be that expensive, even a more modest ring could cost more than you have in savings.
Paying cash for an engagement ring is a fiscally sound move, but if your love life can’t wait, a 0% credit card offer is the next best option. Don’t put the ring on a high interest credit card or a store’s expensive payment plan. Instead, look for a 0% introductory financing offer from a credit card. Right now, the QuickSilver® from Capital One® offers 0% financing for 15 months on all purchases. On top of that, you can earn a $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 in your first three months with the card. Plus you’ll earn a total 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Combining the money in your savings account with the 0% financing and the rewards from the QuickSilver card could help you pay off the ring before the wedding and the rest of your life together.

0% APR for 18 billing cycles • Free cell phone insurance (up to $600 with a $25 deductible) • Lower than average 3% balance transfer fee

Interest rate jumps after 18 months • No reward points

The Bottom Line

Getting yourself in financial shape may not be as fun as exotic vacations of dinners out. However, if you’re inching towards a long-term relationship (or already there), almost nothing is as sexy as paying off credit card debt. Just be sure that you pay off the whole balance within 18 months, or your interest rate will jump up again.

6. U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Everyone looks better naked when they’ve paid off their debt.

  • Pricing:
    0% APR for 18 billing cycles. 14.74-25.74% APR after 18 months. 3% balance transfer fee. No annual fee.
While expensive, splurge-worthy events may help you woo a partner, financial stability looks sexiest in a long-term relationship. In a lot of cases, the best way to flame your love life is to pay off high interest debt. Need a little boost to pay that debt off faster? A promotional 0% balance transfer can help you transfer high interest debt to a low interest card. That way, every dollar you throw at the debt goes straight towards paying it off instead of going towards interest.
Looking to impress your beau by becoming fiscally fit? The right credit card can help. Right now, the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers an introductory 0% APR on all balance transfers for 18 billing cycles. You only have to pay the 3% balance transfer fee, and then you have a year and a half to eliminate all your high interest debt. Just remember, the interest rate goes up at the end of 18 months, so take the debt repayment seriously.

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19Mar 2019

20 hot destinations you can visit for less than $100 a day – USA TODAY


Spring break and summer travel planning are in full swing for globetrotters itching to leave behind the sleepy winter months. Although it’s tempting to book a spontaneous trip to that Instagram-worthy locale on your bucket list, chances are you’ll come back from those top travel destinations with your pockets empty — or worse, trapped in debt. That’s why GOBankingRates put together a list of 20 hot destinations that you can visit for less than $100 per day.

These cheap vacation spots boast inexpensive hotels, food and local transportation, along with all the sightseeing and experiences you could want. Vacationing on a budget is easy if you’re in the know about the best cheap places to travel this year.

Methodology: GOBankingRates analyzed 350 cities around the globe to find 20 hot destinations where you can visit for less than $100 a day. For each of the 350 cities, GOBankingRates found average nightly hotel costs from Hotels.com based on three-star hotels in the city center during the week of Sept. 7 to Sept. 14, 2019. Then, the costs of a three-course meal for one, an inexpensive meal for one and four local transportation tickets were found. All of those factors were added together to determine a daily sum for each city. Round-trip flight costs from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York for the week of Sept. 7 to Sept. 14, 2019, were included because JFK offers the greatest number of international flights.

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19Mar 2019

70% of Americans with credit card debt admit they can't pay it off this year – CNBC


Almost half of Americans carry a balance on their credit cards, a new survey finds, and paying it off is proving a challenge: Only about 30 percent of people with credit card debt say they’ll be able to wipe it out this year.

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A new survey of 1,000 credit card users by real estate data company Clever found that 47 percent of Americans carry a monthly balance on their credit cards. Of them, over 70 percent say that balance is more than $1,000 on average.

Over half of those surveyed, 56 percent, say they’ve had credit card debt for at least a year. And most will continue to carry it for years to come. Almost 20 percent estimate it will take them more than three years to pay off their debt, while roughly 8 percent say they don’t know when they’ll be able to pay it down.

“It’s a big issue,” Ted Rossman, credit industry expert for CreditCards.com, tells CNBC Make It. Especially now: The average credit card APR sits at a record-high 17.65 percent, so the interest accrued on monthly balances can quickly add up.

“This is why every extra dollar should go toward your credit card debt,” Rossman says. Think of it like an investment with a guaranteed average return of over 17 percent. For many people, that return may be over 20 percent, since that’s what they’re paying in interest, Rossman says.

“Good luck getting that in the stock market,” he says, especially when you consider the S&P 500 index ended 2018 down over 6 percent.

Simply coping with daily expenses is driving some people into debt, especially lower-income families, defined here as those earning less than $50,000 a year. “Buying groceries” ranked as the top expense that added to people’s balances, according to the survey.

About 28 percent of respondents say they depend on credit cards to pay for essentials such as rent and utilities.

Emergency expenses also contribute significantly to credit card debt, many respondents say. About 30 percent cite medical bills, and 40 percent say car repairs have added to their balance.

But there’s some good news. A full 62 percent of millennials (defined here as those ages 18 to 34) say they pay off their balance every month. That’s compared to just 48 percent of those aged 35 and up.

If you’re not able to pay off your balance each month, Rossman says you should still pay more than the minimum whenever possible.

Let’s say you have $5,700 in credit card debt, the national average among those who carry a balance. If your card charges the average APR of 17.65 percent and you only pay the minimum each month, you’d be in debt for almost 20 years and pay over $7,000 in interest, Rossman calculates.

“Those are huge numbers,” he says.

Having an emergency savings fund can also be an important way to take control of your finances. Most experts recommend that you have three-to-six months of living expenses set aside in an account earmarked for crises. “That’s going to be a buffer between you and high-cost credit card debt,” Rossman says.

Since it’s easier said than done, he suggests starting small, with $2,000 as your initial goal. Then work your way up to having the recommended six months of savings.

Don’t miss:

60 percent of millennials don’t have enough money to cover a $1,000 emergency

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19Mar 2019

Giant Eagle rolls out expanded Fuel Perks rewards program in Cleveland – cleveland.com


CLEVELAND, Ohio — Giant Eagle is expanding its Fuel Perks rewards program in Cleveland, so now customers can earn rewards at the gas pump, and save money on groceries.

The program launched in 2006 keeps its basics: for every $50 spent at a Giant Eagle store, customers receives 10 cents off a gallon of gas, up to a full tank of gas. But now, customers can also earn rewards when they pump their gas at Giant Eagle Get Go stations. Customers can also redeem their reward perks to cut down on their grocery bills.

Here’s how it works:

For every dollar spent at a Giant Eagle store, which includes Market District and GetGo, customers earn one perk. For every gallon of gas pumped at a GetGo station, customers earn two perks: That’s because a gallon of gas costs more than a dollar. Once customers earn 50 perks, they receive a reward.

Now customers can choose to redeem that reward for 10 cents off a gallon of gas, or 2 percent off their grocery bill. Or customers could save up their rewards and cash them in for big savings: up to a full tank of gas or up to 20 percent off their grocery bill.

The company has already launched the new rewards program in the Akron area, and in Canton.

“If you’re someone who for work or for play does a lot of driving and you really love getting up to that free tank of gas, that doesn’t change. We just gave you a new way to earn, so that’s hopefully really good news for you,” said Giant Eagle spokesperson Dan Donovan. “If you’re someone like myself, I’ve got four young kids at home. I’ve got a dog at home. So for me the ability to redeem 20 percent off my next supermarket shopping trip with no limit on how big my basket size can be that become really valuable.”

The program is free with a Giant Eagle rewards card.

Giant Eagle is headquartered in Pittsburgh, and operates in five states. In Northeast Ohio, the company runs 89 supermarkets and 72 GetGo gas stations.

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19Mar 2019

Manifest Escapes Wants To Become A Private Jet Vacation Travel Club – Forbes


When you’ve been CEO of a major commercial airline (Frontier Airlines), an Uber for private flights (Surf Air) and a vacation membership club (Exclusive Resorts), you probably have some ideas about gaps in the leisure travel marketplace.

In this case, Manifest Escapes is the vision of Jeff Potter, its founder and CEO, who believes avoiding the hassles of connecting through airline hubs, and combining the demand for curated travel experiences with affordable private jet flights is the next frontier.

Manifest Escapes combines private jet flights and curated short getaways.Screenshot

While new ultra-long-range airliners offer nonstop flights halfway around the world, Potter, a Denver resident, thinks some of the best vacations are nearby, although not necessarily in places that are easy to reach.

Manifest will be using a membership club model limited to 300 members per city. Potter has started taking deposits ($500 refundable) for a hometown launch against the annual $2,500 fee. Members will be able to browse a set schedule of weekly trips, typically three to four days each, posted for the upcoming six months.

Manifest will make short vacations more attractive by using private jet flights.Screenshot

Potter believes one reason Americans don’t use all their earned vacation days (700 million are wasted annually) is they don’t want to be away from the office for a full week multiple times a year. At the same time, flying commercially means a river rafting trip to the Grand Canyon, glamping in Yellowstone National Park or a trek along the Kentucky Bourbon Travel, each requiring a full day of airline travel on both ends, makes those type of getaways too much of a hassle. Marrying these experiences with affordable private jet travel will solve that problem. Target pricing is $1,200 to $1,500 per person, per night, including the private flights, so for a couple, the cost would be under $10,000.

Potter has recruited an in-house team to work with suppliers who will provide the experiences. So far he’s identified over 200 possibilities that make sense for members of the initial Western U.S. based clubs he plans to create.

Manifest members will be able to scroll a series of weekly trips choosing the ones they are interested in. Popular trips will be offered multiple times.Screenshot

By avoiding peak travel dates, he hopes to negotiate attractive pricing from vendors. As he grows the number of clubs – he believes he can have more than 20 by 2022 – there are efficiencies in terms of chartering private jets, he says.

For example, a private jet dropping off members from Denver at Yellowstone to begin their trip would pick up patrons of the Seattle club who had just finished. He says a confidential bidding system for private jet operators will attract better pricing than is offered to the general public. In terms of quality, he says he will limit bids to operators who are either Platinum or Gold rated by Argus.

Potter believes the idea of limiting the number of memberships being sold in each market creates both scarcity and urgency to join. The number of spots available for each journey will be based on the type of aircraft chartered for that trip, so typically ranging from four to 10 people. Popular trips will be run multiple times throughout the year. While each member can bring up to three people on the trip, Potter believes that members will also enjoy meeting and traveling with other like-minded members who live in the same community.

Manifest envisions having 20 clubs by 2022 starting with Denver and then expanding in the Western U.S.screenshot

Currently, Potter says he has raised nearly $1.5 million to help launch the first four clubs, which will all be based in the Western U.S. He says Manifest will have revenue streams from membership dues, margin from travel suppliers and margin from private aviation providers.

In addition to individuals signing up, Potter foresees corporate memberships for companies that want to provide access as a way to encourage employees to use more of their vacation time. He cites studies that workers who take vacations are happier and more productive. Membership in Manifest could also be a perk for wealth management companies to include in lifestyle offerings for their HNW and UHNW clients.

“While I’ve have had the good fortune to travel to all corners of the world, I still believe there is much to be discovered within a matter of hours of where we live. The idea of close to home experiences combined with the increasing trend of experiential travel and the opportunity to utilize the private aviation industry is how Manifest was born,” Potter says.

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19Mar 2019

8 under-the-radar credit card perks to help save money – Bankrate.com


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Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on the website are from companies from which this site receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or available credit card offers.
Information about credit cards and card offers is accurate as of the date of publication.

Many consumers who use credit cards are already earning cash back, collecting points and building up airline miles. Maybe they are also paying off their credit card debt interest-free using a balance transfer offer. But there are even more perks and benefits available to be taken advantage of that some people may not know much about.

With banks searching for new and innovative ways to retain customers, the competition is fierce.

And that means rewards offerings are more diverse than ever. Flashy sign-up bonuses and rising cash-back percentages aren’t the only things you should consider.

Smaller, under-the-radar benefits can be some of the most lucrative ways to save using your credit card and, while they may not be your primary reason for signing up, can make a big difference in your card benefits over time. What’s more, these hidden money-savers are only getting better.

Here are some standout perks to consider during your next credit card search:

1. Free trial cancellation

If you’ve been roped into a monthly subscription service by accidentally letting your free trial renew, a new rule for merchants announced by Mastercard in January may help.

Now, when you sign up for a free trial using your Mastercard, the merchant must gain your approval before they can bill your card. At the end of your free trial, Mastercard now requires merchants to provide you with the transaction amount, payment date and instructions on how to cancel by email or text message.

If you have a habit of losing track of your subscription services, this is an easy way to make sure you’re only paying for those services you’ll actually use.

2. Rental car insurance

Rental car agents will often try to persuade you to add Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) to your payment, which reduces your liability in the case of loss or damage to the car. At popular automotive rental company Enterprise Rent-A-Car, that can cost between $8.99 and $29.99 per day.

Before you agree, check to see which protections you already have under your credit card.

Many cards provide secondary coverage, meaning you’ll need to report any damages to your auto insurance provider first, but some credit cards offer primary coverage for rentals. If you book your rental car using a card with primary coverage, you won’t have to report incidents to your insurance provider, saving you from potentially increased rates.

Chase’s popular personal travel cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and  Chase Sapphire Preferred, both offer primary coverage. Eligible American Express cardholders can enroll in Premium Car Rental Protection and receive primary coverage for a flat fee per rental, unlike many rental companies’ daily charges.

Your card’s coverage will vary and may not cover all types of cars or international rentals, so it’s important to be aware of your liability. Always read the fine print of your policy to ensure you’re properly covered.

If you’re exploring unknown territory in your rental car, you may also benefit from access to emergency assistance services. Many credit card issuers offer roadside assistance services through a toll-free number, which you may or may not be charged to use depending on your individual card.

3. Travel insurance

There is always a chance of travel plans going awry despite your best efforts.

Before you purchase extra travel insurance through an airline or hotel, check your credit card provider’s coverage. Popular travel rewards cards often include benefits like trip cancellation or interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement and baggage delay insurance.

If you purchase your entire trip fare using a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, for example, you get automatic travel accident insurance for any covered loss. Cardholders who book using their American Express Gold Card are covered under a Baggage Insurance Plan, which covers against loss, theft and damage up to $1,250 for carry-ons and $500 for checked bags.

4. Priority boarding and checked bags

Insurance isn’t the only bonus travel perk. If you have a co-branded airline credit card, check to see if you’re eligible for priority boarding privileges and free checked baggage.

For example, American Airlines frequent fliers can get both preferred boarding and one free checked bag on every domestic flight just by purchasing with their Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. These perks may help make a co-branded card worth the annual fee.

Even if you’re not particularly loyal to one brand, many premium travel cards offer their own airport perks, like lounge access and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application reimbursement.

5. Cell phone insurance

As prices on the latest smartphone models soar above $1,000, having an insurance plan in place on your device can be a lifeline.

Luckily, you may already be covered by your credit card.

Wells Fargo credit cardholders can get up to $600 protection per claim (subject to $25 deductible) and up to $1,200 per 12 month period. Both the Uber Visa Card by Barclays and the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card also offer up to $600 in mobile phone protection in the case of damage or theft (subject to $25 deductible).

These mobile protections often come with the stipulation that you pay your cell phone bill each cycle using the credit card, so be sure to check the fine print.

6. Extended warranties and price matching

Before you run out to replace your faulty television or malfunctioning refrigerator, check your credit card’s warranty policy.

In addition to cash back rewards, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express will match original manufacturer warranties under two years and extend warranties with a duration between two and five years for up to an additional two years on items purchased with the card.

You can also use your card to save on the cost of purchases with price matching.

When you make a purchase with the Citi Double Cash Card (and other Citi cards), for example, you can upload your receipt into Citi Price Rewind and receive a statement credit if the database finds a better price within 60 days of your purchase date (up to $200 per claim and $1,000 per year maximum).

Check with your issuer to find if you qualify for these shopping perks and more, like free returns and shipping.

7. Discount offers

Special discounts and bonus rewards don’t end with your sign-up bonus. Check your account regularly to find rotating promotions that your credit cards may offer.

In addition to regular cash-back and points rewards, issuers may offer additional deals to cardholders in the form of direct discounts, statement credits or waived membership fees. You can find a running list of these limited time offers from each issuer on CreditCards.com, a Bankrate sister site.

For example, eligible Mastercard and American Express cardholders can currently enroll in a ShopRunner membership for free using their respective cards. Capital One® Venture® or VentureOne® cardholders can earn 10 miles per dollar spent on hotel stays booked through Hotels.com/venture through January 2020.

Also look for promotions through your issuer’s benefits programs, like Amex Offers and Citi Easy Deals. If you really want to up your shopping rewards game, use your credit card company’s online shopping portal or another cash-back site like Ebates to save even more.

8. Fraud protection services

You may already be familiar with your credit card issuer’s zero liability policy, but that’s not the only service available to you in case of fraud.

Some issuers offer assistance in dealing with fraud and mitigating your future risk. Look into the specific protections your cards offer to save  time and money if you’re ever targeted.

For instance, Mastercard offers Expert Resolution Services to assist you in the process of replacing stolen cards and reporting fraud to credit bureaus. Similarly, Citi cardholders can work with Citi Identity Theft Solution Specialists to document fraud cases and report compromises to credit bureaus, even if the theft occurs on a card from a different company.

Nearly every credit card issuer and network has their own set of fraud protection measures, including monitoring and security alerts that can help you quickly identify a fraud attempt and mitigate any damage to your bank account.

Finding the perks that work best for you

Credit card rewards are constantly evolving, which means you should stay on top of which perks and benefits work best for you.

While the biggest draws remain hefty sign-up bonuses and lucrative rewards, these smaller perks will often come in handy when you’re in a bind or simply looking to narrow the search for a new addition to your wallet.

Learn more:

The information for the Uber Visa Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.


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