Current Events and Blog

14Oct 2018

Why shooting longer 3-pointers may yield more rewards for Mavs – Dallas News


After the Mavericks had wrapped up a robust practice Sunday morning, rookie Ryan Broekhoff was shooting baskets from beyond the 3-point arc.

Way beyond the 3-point arc.

He was knocking down three out of five from about two good-sized steps beyond the arc – about 28 feet from the basket.

It’s the next generation of NBA shooting, although this is not where no man has gone before. Steph Curry and others have proven that the 25- to 35-foot shot is no longer taboo.

“We have all our guys doing it,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Everybody’s working on longer threes. It helps space the floor even more. And defenses are getting closer to the 3-point line every year. Naturally, guys are going to be shooting them further out.”

The Mavericks last season were 17th in the league at 36 percent from 3-point range. And they shot a lot of them, the fourth most in the NBA.

Going deeper with shots could have other benefits, however, than just getting more open looks on a lower-percentage shot.

“There are extreme examples,” Carlisle said. “Curry will pull up for a 35-footer routinely. (Damian) Lillard will do it. Klay Thompson, (Kevin) Durant. Those guys are proficient because they work on it.

“We got all our perimeter guys working on their range. And even if they don’t shoot shots that far out, by working on shooting from range, it’s going to make the conventional 3-point shot feel even easier.”

Briefly: The Mavericks’ roster is set at 17 players – 15 on the main roster and a pair of two-way players, Kostas Antetokounmpo and Daryl Macon. They waived Ding Yanyuhang on Sunday. He is likely to sign with the Texas Legends. Ray Spalding and Ryan Broekhoff are rookies that made the roster, in addition to Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson … The Mavericks had a lengthy workout Sunday and Carlisle said they will gradually taper things down in the final two practices before heading to Phoenix on Tuesday for Wednesday’s opener … The Mavericks also picked up the 2019-20 option on Dennis Smith Jr., which was little more than a formality.

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14Oct 2018

Things young professionals should consider when getting first credit card: Money Matters – cleveland.com


Q: I have a daughter who graduated in the spring from college and has her first job now. She is looking for her own credit card. She has had her own AMEX for years, but under my account.

She has zero debt but has really no credit history, since the AMEX was my account. Will this impact getting card approval? What is the best bet to get a card? She makes $42,000. Would an AMEX card make the most sense or would they have no history on her?

What I don’t want her to do is keep applying for cards and getting turned down.

She really wants a rewards-type card so that she is building toward something like miles, points, etc.

B.Z., Cleveland

A: It’s great that your daughter found a solid job right out of college and wants to start building her own credit history. This is important not just for a future home loan or car loan, but also for insurance and apartment rental purposes.

A few things first: One, if she was an authorized user on your account, she may well have been building her own credit history ever since she was added. Some credit card issuers report authorized users to the credit bureaus and some don’t. You should check because this may influence how you proceed.

You can find this out by having her pull a copy of her credit report, either online or by mail.

If your daughter’s authorized user status has been reported to the bureaus, it’ll show up on her credit report. And if that credit card has been maintained in good standing, no late payments and a current monthly statement balance of less than 25 percent of the credit limit, then she should be able to get a low-limit credit card without much problem. If she wants AMEX or another card, she should try that.

Credit card issuers aren’t as loose as they were 15 years ago, but it’s easier to get a credit card now than it was eight to 10 years ago.

You’re smart to realize she shouldn’t just go on a frenzy applying for credit cards. That will crash her credit score quickly.

If she wasn’t on your account, then she’ll likely be starting from scratch. There are a number of card issuers that are friendly toward college students or new graduates. She could start by talking to the bank where she has her checking account. But make sure she’s just asking questions, not applying.

Other options for her to consider, and she should ask about rewards and any annual fee:

Q: It seems like all sellers of anything want you to automatically renew, and will charge the credit card used for the initial purchase. (They’re aided by the banks who give out your new credit card number if it has changed.) It seems that magazine subscriptions and other companies do not notify you that you’re signing up for auto renew. Nor do they offer an opt-out.

My solution has been to call in my order and make them take me off the auto renew list before I finish the transaction. Other suggestions or comments?

C.J., Mayfield Heights

A: With magazine subscriptions, whether for myself or those I give as a gift, I always pay with a check from my secondary checking account (which I don’t keep a lot of money in). If you really wanted to be even more careful, you could pay by money order.

Another option is a prepaid debit card such as Movo Prepaid Visa Card or American Express Bluebird. But this would work only if you don’t keep enough money on the card to cover the next year’s renewal.

I do caution people to avoid signing up for free trials or other things that require you to provide a credit or debit card and then cancel by a certain date if you don’t want to be charged. Those often end in headache.

Murray is The Plain Dealer’s personal finance writer. Because of the volume of requests, she cannot help everyone who contacts her.
To reach her: moneymatters@plaind.com
On Facebook: MurrayMoneyMatters

On Twitter: @teresamurray 
Previous columns online: cleveland.com/moneymatters

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14Oct 2018

Delta Plans To Open More Upgrade Options For Frequent Flyers … – Forbes


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Delta’s new Delta One Suite, which features sliding privacy doors.Delta Air Lines

Travelers on Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines may soon have more options for upgrading their flights. Later this year, the airline expects to enable functionality that will allow travelers to upgrade from most cabins – including premium economy – using frequent flyer miles in addition to cash. In 2019, that functionality will also be expanded to the airline’s mobile app, giving travelers the ability to upgrade their seats while at the airport or on the road.

The news came from Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian on the company’s third quarter conference call in response to an analyst question from CNBC. In that same call, the company reported profits topping analysts’ expectations (a readout of the full conference call is available at The Motley Fool).

Adding the ability to use frequent flyer miles for upgrades is right in line with a recent strategy that Delta has taken to make its miles and cash more interchangeable. Already, the airline gives travelers award miles based on how much a ticket costs. But in the last two years, Delta has also opened alternative channels for spending miles at unique and brick and mortar locations. It’s now possible, for example, to use miles to pay for drinks at the airline’s airport lounges.

Other operators in the travel space are taking a similar tack. Early last year, Hilton overhauled its Honors loyalty program to allow members to pay for rooms partially with points, effectively assigning a dollar value to every point in a traveler’s wallet.

Baking more upgrade options into the travel process is also on frequency with Delta’s recent initiative to extract more ancillary revenue out of passengers. According to Ideaworks [pdf], Delta took in about 5.4B of ancillary revenue in 2017, second to only United Airlines, which hauled in $5.7B. By giving passengers the mobile tools to pay for upgrades, that ancillary revenue should improve for Delta. And by opening up a new channel to spend frequent flyer miles, Delta’s open liabilities should drop.

All told, Delta’s new upgrade options should be an improvement for most travelers flying on the carrier. One potential group that may see a downside, however, is elite members of Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program. Those members enjoy complimentary upgrades to premium cabins on most domestic and some international routes on the day of travel. With more passengers available to purchase those upgrades, however, the volume of free elite upgrades given out at the airport will likely drop.

Bastian suggested that the upgrade-with-miles functionality should be available later this quarter while mobile tools will come in "early in 2019."

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Delta’s new Delta One Suite, which features sliding privacy doors.Delta Air Lines

Travelers on Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines may soon have more options for upgrading their flights. Later this year, the airline expects to enable functionality that will allow travelers to upgrade from most cabins – including premium economy – using frequent flyer miles in addition to cash. In 2019, that functionality will also be expanded to the airline’s mobile app, giving travelers the ability to upgrade their seats while at the airport or on the road.

The news came from Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian on the company’s third quarter conference call in response to an analyst question from CNBC. In that same call, the company reported profits topping analysts’ expectations (a readout of the full conference call is available at The Motley Fool).

Adding the ability to use frequent flyer miles for upgrades is right in line with a recent strategy that Delta has taken to make its miles and cash more interchangeable. Already, the airline gives travelers award miles based on how much a ticket costs. But in the last two years, Delta has also opened alternative channels for spending miles at unique and brick and mortar locations. It’s now possible, for example, to use miles to pay for drinks at the airline’s airport lounges.

Other operators in the travel space are taking a similar tack. Early last year, Hilton overhauled its Honors loyalty program to allow members to pay for rooms partially with points, effectively assigning a dollar value to every point in a traveler’s wallet.

Baking more upgrade options into the travel process is also on frequency with Delta’s recent initiative to extract more ancillary revenue out of passengers. According to Ideaworks [pdf], Delta took in about 5.4B of ancillary revenue in 2017, second to only United Airlines, which hauled in $5.7B. By giving passengers the mobile tools to pay for upgrades, that ancillary revenue should improve for Delta. And by opening up a new channel to spend frequent flyer miles, Delta’s open liabilities should drop.

All told, Delta’s new upgrade options should be an improvement for most travelers flying on the carrier. One potential group that may see a downside, however, is elite members of Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program. Those members enjoy complimentary upgrades to premium cabins on most domestic and some international routes on the day of travel. With more passengers available to purchase those upgrades, however, the volume of free elite upgrades given out at the airport will likely drop.

Bastian suggested that the upgrade-with-miles functionality should be available later this quarter while mobile tools will come in “early in 2019.”

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14Oct 2018

Fortnite's Upcoming “Tournaments” Mode Leaked (Rewards, Gamemodes, More) – FortniteINTEL (press release)


Data-miners have discovered files and rewards related to the previously sighted Tournaments tab that should be coming soon to Fortnite.

Recently, an official Fortnite video was posted to social media and users noticed that one of the tabs on the main menu of the Battle Royale game mode was titled “Tournaments” – something not previously seen in-game. This was because the video was of a developer build of the game.

Now, data-miners (@ShiinaBR@srdrabx, @TapohiFL@MADLEAKER) have actually discovered files and data related to the Tournaments mode that should be appearing in-game shortly for Fortnite players.

For now, tournaments are usually played with a secret input when searching for Custom Games. However, we might be seeing the addition of more types of tournaments and they can be easily viewed/played in-game with this tab.

The leakers have shared leaks of this upcoming addition to the game, which you can view below.

Loading Screens

These loading screens belong to the Tournaments tab that is soon to be appearing in-game, and you can view them depending on which mode you actually play inside the Tournaments feature.

Game Modes

Here are the upcoming game modes that will feature in the Tournaments tab. More might be added later.

Solo

No description yet.

Duos

Duos: Grab a friend and take on the world – until you are the last two left. Three days in a row of tough Duo.

Squads

Squads: Join your friends every Friday and kick off your weekend with some exciting Squad action. Can your team rise to the top?

Tournaments

– Tournament Name: Tomato Temple Cup
– Description: Grab a friend and make Tomatohead proud. Become legends of the Tomato.
– Mode: Duos
– Date: October 28th – November 1st

– Tournament Name: Salty Springs Cup
– Description: One week and three attempts to prove you’re the saltiest that Salty Springs has to offer. Compete to take home a pin in the Salty Springs Cup.
– Mode: Solo
– Date: October 27th – October 31st

– Tournament Name: Fortnite Friday Night
– Description: Join your friends every Friday and kick off your weekend with some exciting Squad action. Can your team rise to the top?
– Mode: Squads
– Date: Every Friday!

Rewards

The rewards for the tournaments will be Shiny Pins.
Info: “Tournament”,”title_line_1″:”Alpha”,”details_description”:”Score up to 6 points every match by eliminating multiple opponents and surviving against the competition!”

Score at least 20 total points in a session to earn a shiny pin!


We do not know when the Tournaments feature will be available in-game, but expect an announcement from Epic Games shortly.

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14Oct 2018

Hands-on w/ Zendure's ultimate global travel adapter [Video] – 9to5Mac


This month we’ve teamed up with Zendure to celebrate the launch of its brand new Passport Pro global travel adapter and to give away Apple’s new iPhone XS Max.

Below we go hands-on with the new travel adapter- the world’s first with a ground connection for added safety and a push-button resettable fuse.

For a limited time you can preorder Passport Pro for a special $35 price.

Hands-on with Passport Pro Global Travel Adapter

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As you’ll see in our hands-on with the new Passport Pro above, Zendure set out to make the ultimate travel adapter this time around for charging all of your devices. With new features and support for over 200 countries, it also managed to make the new model have a 16% smaller footprint compared to its popular original Passport adapter.

Notably, the new Passport Pro adds two new features to make it the safest and most reliable travel adapter available. These include the world’s first ground connection, a push-button resettable fuse, and a baby-proof safety mechanism to make it as safe as possible for you and your devices as you travel. It also means you won’t have to replace a single-use fuse like with other travel adapters.

For charging your devices, the new Passport Pro includes 1 USB-C port alongside three USB-A outputs in addition to its universal AC output.

The USB-C port supports fast-charging at up to 18W maximum output, which means you’ll get up to 70% faster charging compared to a standard 5W charger. That gives you the ability to fast charge, for example, an iPhone X or iPhone 8/ 8 Plus up to 50% in just 30 minutes.

With universal AC output, the Passport Pro can accept type A, B, C, E, F, G, I, J, L, N and O plugs and it can plug into type B, C, D, E, F, G, I, K, and O outlets.

In all, that means it will have you covered in over 200 countries and regions. There is also a detachable World-to-Europe adapter that you can use independently from the rest of the unit to charge your AC-powered devices when in the EU.

For a limited time you can preorder Passport Pro for a special $35 price. That’s over 40% off the expected retail price and you can get further discounts by purchasing bundles of two or more. You’ll also get a two-year warranty with Passport Pro.

Sign up to our giveaway for your chance at winning Apple’s new iPhone XS Max here.

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13Oct 2018

Travel Rewards Hacking Made Simple – NerdWallet (blog)



Hannah and Chad Janis are a married couple currently flying to 40 countries on business class … for free.

The dynamic duo is pulling this off by maximizing travel credit card rewards. As you might’ve guessed, anyone who is traveling this much has picked up more than a few dos, don’ts and general tips.

If you want to use credit card points to fund your trips with a significant other — and not break up along the way — allow Hannah and Chad to enlighten you.

Taxes can be taxing

Without a doubt, Chad says, you must be mindful of the taxes.

“Even after redeeming your points for flights, you still have to pay taxes and fees,” Chad explains. “For some flights, these fees can be as low as $5. However, depending on the airline you are flying with and the airports you are flying to/through, we’ve also seen taxes and fees as high as $500.”

“This pretty much destroys the value of your hard-earned points. It’s important to stay away from airlines that generally pass their taxes and fees onto you, so that you can really maximize the value of your points by paying as little out of your pocket as possible, he says.”

» Learn more: How I flew for free: Round trip NYC to India using Chase Ultimate Rewards

If you’re thinking of traveling to Europe, Hannah and Chad suggest avoiding British Airways and American Airlines. These airlines often route their flights through London’s Heathrow Airport — aka, one of the most expensive airports in the world in terms of taxes and fees, Chad says.

Who likes whom

You should familiarize yourself with airline partnerships, because that’s a great way to find arbitrage. Look into the three main airline alliances — Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance — and research airlines to find out who works with whom.

» Learn more: How to set a trip budget when traveling with friends

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, either. “Sometimes less intuitive airlines offer the best travel rewards rates,” Chad explains. “Alaska Airlines offers some of the best rates worldwide. You may book the flight through them, but one of their partner airlines will actually fulfill the flight.”

Compromise is key

Hannah and Chad are spending a lot of time together doing what many people consider to be quite stressful — flying and working out multiple travel itineraries. How have they managed to not strangle each other? By understanding the task at hand and meeting halfway.

“It’s easy to approach traveling the world like you would a vacation,” said Chad. “But when travel becomes a part of your everyday life, it’s important that you approach it as you would school or a job. Plan activities and experiences to enjoy for 8-10 hours each day, and then give yourself some time to decompress.

“Also, you’ll probably have different interests that make traveling special to you. We try to have a balance between enjoying the experiences we both like, and going along with the activities that maybe only one of us would enjoy,” Chad says.

Photos by Hannah and Chad Janis.

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 2018, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Travel rewards bucket list: Showering on a plane
How to snag credit card rewards flights in peak season
This strategy is how I started earning major travel rewards

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13Oct 2018

Weekend Travel Deals And Steals – Forbes


Young woman sitting in the van in the forest.

At the end of a week (desk-clearing time) some compelling travel deals appear. Here are some worth studying, or possibly even booking, over the weekend.

Rent an RV and See America for One Dollar A Day?

Most travel deals involve discounts on airfare, hotel stays or bargains on cruises and destinations. But did you know you can rent a recreational vehicle (RV) for as little as one dollar ($1) per day and see America?

It was news to me, but apparently not to the travel experts at TravelPirates. The deals are called RV relocations. Rental companies need people to move their vehicles from one city to another (without putting them on a train or paying professional drivers) and are willing to offer great deals to drivers to get the vehicles where they are meant to go.

The starting and ending cities for these trips vary, as well as the rental prices and mileage allowances per day. If you have a US driver’s license and are at least 18 (some companies, like rental car companies, insist drivers be 21 or even 25) Travel Pirates says you are eligible.

The routes and prices vary from company to company and change often. Apollo (which also operates in Australia and New Zealand) listed 20 separate New York to Orlando 5-day, one-way relocations, at $1 per day. Other RV rental companies that offer relocation rates include Cruise America, Imoova, Jucy USA, Road Bear RV, and Transfercar.

Some companies provide insurance, others insist you purchase it. As to where to park “your” RV on your journey, websites like FreeCampsite and Ultimate Campgrounds are a good source of places to stay. A number of businesses, including Walmart, allow RV parking in designated spots as well.

Big Island, Hawaii

Time to See The Big Island After Volcano Eruptions?

The Big Island of Hawaii is a special place that is literally constantly changing and growing, as Mount Kilaueau spits lava into the sea and fire into the sky. One of Hawaii’s biggest tourist attractions, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is finally open again after weeks of volcano-caused shutdowns and evacuations.

Of course, there’s plenty more to see on the Big Island, from coffee farms to snorkeling warm pristine waters to exploring the many microclimates and the rainforest of the island.

Even better, a number of airlines are running fare sales to Hawaii. Smarter Travel found flights on Hawaiian from $307 round-trip from Los Angeles starting travel November 11, 2018,, with travel ending November 21.

It seems other airlines are also offering competitive low fares to the Big Island during the shoulder season. For example, on Expedia we found a United nonstop flight departing LAX at 8:07AM on Friday, November 2 arriving in Kona (KOA) at 11:02AM, departing on Monday, November 12 at 9:35PM, for $315 round trip.

Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, United States of America

Enjoy December in Maui Luxury at Grand Wailea For Less

The Grand Wailea on the Hawaiian island of Maui was described as the “most incredible beach resort in the United States” by our friends at Conde Nast Traveler. The Grand Wailea is offering a special deal via Travel Zoo during the December holiday season.

The deal includes a room at the AAA Four Diamond oceanfront resort, (the Grand Wailea is a Waldorf Astoria Resort) for $365 a night, with a $100 daily resort credit. The rooms are large and each has its own private lanai. Even better, the Wailea has waived that pesky daily resort fee. Normally an additional $40 a night, it provides internet access, bike rentals, beach umbrellas, and other goodies. Rates are refundable but must be canceled 14 days prior to avoid penalties

Wailea is considered one of Maui’s greatest beaches, and the Grand Wailea, naturally, sits right on it. The hotel also has a 2,000-foot-long activity pool with waterfalls and a swim-up bar. The grounds boast sculpture by artists like Fernando Botero and Fernand Leger.

Cruise the Carribean With Princess From $598

This week, Princess Cruises featured deal is a 7-day Caribbean cruise starting at $599.

Princess is offering 7-day cruises to both the Eastern and Western Caribbean in November and December that start at $598. On November 25, 2018, the Regal Princess departs Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for three ports, including Princess Cays, Bahamas, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and St. Maarten. An interior stateroom starts at $598, with the inevitable taxes, fees and port expenses adding an additional $120.

The following week (December 2) the Regal Princess departs Ft. Lauderdale for four ports in the Western Caribbean, including Princess Cays, Bahamas, Falmouth, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico. Again, interior staterooms start at $598, with balconies going for $678.

Sightseeing and activities are available in the ports for an additional fee. On board, anytime dining or traditional dining is said to be included, as is 24-hour room service, but, alas, alcohol is not.

September 28, 2015: Princess Cruises Regal Princess departs Halifax Harbour bound for the open Atlantic.

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13Oct 2018

This Week In Credit Card News: Some Card Fees Being Cut; 43% Of Cyberattacks Target Small Businesses – Forbes


Credit Cards Are Hiking Rates, But Cutting Fees

Although credit card interest rates are rising, not all the news about plastic is bad. That’s because some credit card fees are disappearing, particularly foreign transaction fees. In 2015, 77 out of 100 cards charged these fees of 3% to 5% each time you use a card to buy something outside of the U.S. But just 52 cards still charge these fees today. However, credit card interest rates have risen sharply over the past year, jumping to 17.01% on average from 16.15% a year ago and from 15.2% in 2016. [CBS News]

While credit card rates are rising, some issuers are cutting certain fees (Getty)

Nearly Half of All Cyberattacks Are Aimed at Small Businesses

A new study analyzing cybersecurity threats in America discovered that 43% of online attacks are targeted at small businesses, and that number is projected to rise in the coming years. The study found the most prominent threats for small businesses were macro malware, online banking malware, and ransomware. [LowCards.com]

Wells Fargo Customers Are Fed Up. They Could Yank Billions of Dollars in Deposits

An industry-high 30% of Wells Fargo’s customers are at risk of dumping the scandal-ridden bank. The report, based on an online survey of 4,000 Americans, projected Wells Fargo could lose $93 billion in deposits over the next year, about 7% of the bank’s total deposits. The top complaints of customers is that their bank was engaged in “dishonest, unethical or illegal practices” and that Wells Fargo is trying to sell them products they don’t want or need. [CNN]

Shoppers Love Rewards Credit Cards. Retailers Hate Them.

Large merchants including Amazon, Target and Home Depot are pushing for the right to reject some rewards credit cards, which typically carry higher fees for merchants. The retailers are trying to end the card networks’ “honor all cards” rule, which requires merchants that accept Visa- or Mastercard-branded credit cards to take all of them. If merchants could pick and choose among Visa or Mastercard credit cards, those with the highest merchant fees–and most generous rewards–likely would be on the chopping block. [The Wall Street Journal]


You Could Be Overlooking This Reason to Pay with Credit Cards

When it comes to small purchases, more Americans prefer paying with cash. For purchases under $10, about 45% choose cash while 30% percent use debit cards and 23% use credit cards. It is not until purchases get larger–at about $25–that a so-called tipping point is reached where consumers are more willing to pay with plastic. Most cited the inconvenience of using credit cards as the reason they did not use them more for smaller purchases. But not using credit cards for those purchases could mean you’re leaving rewards or points on the table. [CNBC]

77% of Mobile Payments Among Debit Users are on Apple Pay

A new study found that 77% of mobile wallet transactions used Apple Pay. Samsung Pay made up 17% of mobile wallet transactions among debit card users, and Google Pay made up just 6%. The study also found that Samsung Pay users were the most engaged, making 7.3 transactions per month on average, compared to 5.5 transactions per month for Apple Pay and Google Pay users. Samsung Pay works with NFC card readers, as well as with the traditional magstripe card readers that many merchants still use. Apple Pay and Google Pay only work with NFC card readers. [Credit Union Times]

How the Venmo Debit Card May Save PayPal

Venmo is the mobile application that turned personal financing into a social platform. Acquired by e-commerce company Braintree for $26.2 million in 2012 and then by PayPal for $800 million just one year later, Venmo has become one of the most popular mobile applications for “person-to-person” payments among millennials in the United States. Of the 65% of 20-to-30 year olds who use payment apps, more than two-thirds (68%) of them use Venmo, compared to the 22% using their own bank’s mobile app. [Investopedia]

Children’s Allowances in a New Form: Debit Cards Linked to Parents’ Phones

No need to worry about coming up with cash for a child’s allowance. Parents can now choose from a rapidly expanding menu of prepaid debit cards, aimed at giving them digital oversight of their children’s spending and saving habits. The digital tools aim to fix an increasingly common problem: Parents don’t always have cash on hand. So they can be caught short when a child needs money for an outing with friends, to put gas in the car or to complete a chore. With an app, parents can put money on a child’s debit card with a few taps on their phone. [The New York Times]

 Mastercard Adds New Hotel Benefits for Elite Cardholders

New perks are coming down the line for Mastercard holders with mid-range and premium credit cards. Starting this week, members who hold World and World Elite cards are able to take advantage of a new Hotel Stay and Lowest Hotel Rate guarantee offered through the service, giving elite travelers an extra layer of protection for any booked travel. [Skift]

When Does My Credit Card Report to the Credit Bureaus?

There are many ways to give your credit score a boost, from paying down debts to paying bills on time, but that good behavior may not be reflected in your credit score until the three major credit reporting agencies–Equifax, Experian and TransUnion–update your credit file. Here’s a look at when your credit data gets reported and why that might be important. [US News & World Report]

Protecting Against Data Breach: 6 Tips for Small Business

Smaller businesses are increasingly encountering the effects of a data breach. The results range from compromise of client or customer data to third-party control over the entire business operation. Protecting your data not only shields you from financial liability, but also from substantial reputational harm. Here are six steps your small business can take to avoid liability under state data security statutes and to protect your business and its customers. [Cincinnati Business Courier]

Provided by LowCards.com

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13Oct 2018

Delta Plans To Open More Upgrade Options For Frequent Flyers And Mobile Travelers – Forbes


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Delta’s new Delta One Suite, which features sliding privacy doors.Delta Air Lines

Travelers on Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines may soon have more options for upgrading their flights. Later this year, the airline expects to enable functionality that will allow travelers to upgrade from most cabins – including premium economy – using frequent flyer miles in addition to cash. In 2019, that functionality will also be expanded to the airline’s mobile app, giving travelers the ability to upgrade their seats while at the airport or on the road.

The news came from Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian on the company’s third quarter conference call in response to an analyst question from CNBC. In that same call, the company reported profits topping analysts’ expectations (a readout of the full conference call is available at The Motley Fool).

Adding the ability to use frequent flyer miles for upgrades is right in line with a recent strategy that Delta has taken to make its miles and cash more interchangeable. Already, the airline gives travelers award miles based on how much a ticket costs. But in the last two years, Delta has also opened alternative channels for spending miles at unique and brick and mortar locations. It’s now possible, for example, to use miles to pay for drinks at the airline’s airport lounges.

Other operators in the travel space are taking a similar tack. Early last year, Hilton overhauled its Honors loyalty program to allow members to pay for rooms partially with points, effectively assigning a dollar value to every point in a traveler’s wallet.

Baking more upgrade options into the travel process is also on frequency with Delta’s recent initiative to extract more ancillary revenue out of passengers. According to Ideaworks [pdf], Delta took in about 5.4B of ancillary revenue in 2017, second to only United Airlines, which hauled in $5.7B. By giving passengers the mobile tools to pay for upgrades, that ancillary revenue should improve for Delta. And by opening up a new channel to spend frequent flyer miles, Delta’s open liabilities should drop.

All told, Delta’s new upgrade options should be an improvement for most travelers flying on the carrier. One potential group that may see a downside, however, is elite members of Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program. Those members enjoy complimentary upgrades to premium cabins on most domestic and some international routes on the day of travel. With more passengers available to purchase those upgrades, however, the volume of free elite upgrades given out at the airport will likely drop.

Bastian suggested that the upgrade-with-miles functionality should be available later this quarter while mobile tools will come in "early in 2019."

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Delta’s new Delta One Suite, which features sliding privacy doors.Delta Air Lines

Travelers on Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines may soon have more options for upgrading their flights. Later this year, the airline expects to enable functionality that will allow travelers to upgrade from most cabins – including premium economy – using frequent flyer miles in addition to cash. In 2019, that functionality will also be expanded to the airline’s mobile app, giving travelers the ability to upgrade their seats while at the airport or on the road.

The news came from Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian on the company’s third quarter conference call in response to an analyst question from CNBC. In that same call, the company reported profits topping analysts’ expectations (a readout of the full conference call is available at The Motley Fool).

Adding the ability to use frequent flyer miles for upgrades is right in line with a recent strategy that Delta has taken to make its miles and cash more interchangeable. Already, the airline gives travelers award miles based on how much a ticket costs. But in the last two years, Delta has also opened alternative channels for spending miles at unique and brick and mortar locations. It’s now possible, for example, to use miles to pay for drinks at the airline’s airport lounges.

Other operators in the travel space are taking a similar tack. Early last year, Hilton overhauled its Honors loyalty program to allow members to pay for rooms partially with points, effectively assigning a dollar value to every point in a traveler’s wallet.

Baking more upgrade options into the travel process is also on frequency with Delta’s recent initiative to extract more ancillary revenue out of passengers. According to Ideaworks [pdf], Delta took in about 5.4B of ancillary revenue in 2017, second to only United Airlines, which hauled in $5.7B. By giving passengers the mobile tools to pay for upgrades, that ancillary revenue should improve for Delta. And by opening up a new channel to spend frequent flyer miles, Delta’s open liabilities should drop.

All told, Delta’s new upgrade options should be an improvement for most travelers flying on the carrier. One potential group that may see a downside, however, is elite members of Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program. Those members enjoy complimentary upgrades to premium cabins on most domestic and some international routes on the day of travel. With more passengers available to purchase those upgrades, however, the volume of free elite upgrades given out at the airport will likely drop.

Bastian suggested that the upgrade-with-miles functionality should be available later this quarter while mobile tools will come in “early in 2019.”

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12Oct 2018

Credit card gas rewards fuel bigger savings at gas pump. Here's how to take advantage – USA TODAY


If you’re paying full price at the gas pump these days, you might be missing a way to fuel your household savings. That’s because many rewards credit cards offer bonus points when you use them at the gas station.

Used right, those rewards are like a discount on every gallon you buy.

It’s not unusual now to get triple points — 3 points per dollar spent — for using a rewards card for service station fill-ups. And some of the best gas cards don’t feature the names of big oil companies or their service station brands. Instead, look for fat gas rewards on cards from retailers, warehouse clubs and credit unions.

Lucrative gas rewards are part of a larger trend in which intense competition among credit card issuers is driving better rewards for everyday spending, like gas, dining out and groceries, said Eric Marks, senior director with the banking practice of consultant West Monroe Partners.

“Payment providers and retailers now recognize they need these everyday spending rewards to attract and acquire customers,” he said.

Here’s what to know about gas rewards cards when examining your current credit cards or marketing pitches for new ones.

Use 3 percent back as a benchmark. The most lucrative cards offer the equivalent of 3 percent or more in rewards.

Example: With the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card, gasoline is one of its 3 points-per-dollar bonus categories, along with dining, travel and eligible streaming services. Non-bonus-category spending earns 1 point per dollar. Its annual fee is $0.

More: Young adults turn to personal loans for debt, wedding and moving expenses

More: A look at the pros and cons of the latest small luxury SUV offerings

More: How to invest when interest rates are rising

Look beyond gas rewards. Look for credit cards that offer bonus rewards on not only gas but other areas of spending, too. Why? You might not spend as much on gas as you think. U.S. households spend an average of $1,977 per year on gasoline. Even with a 3 percent gas rewards card, that’s less than $60 per year or $5 per month.

Example: The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express not only offers 3 percent back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, it offers a huge 6 percent back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1 percent). Terms apply. It has an annual fee of $95.

You might already have a suitable card. As more cards add gas spending as a bonus rewards category, you might find you already have a decent card for pump purchases.

Examples: The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard earns 2 miles per dollar spent on gas, with an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $99. The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card earns 6 points per dollar at U.S. gas stations, with an annual fee of $95.

Mind the caps. Some cards place limits on how much gas spending will earn accelerated points or cash back.

Example: The $0-annual-fee Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card, at its basic earning rates, gets 3 percent back on gas, 2 percent at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1 percent cash back on other purchases for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.

Beware of ‘cents off’ rewards. Instead of a percentage of cash back or points per dollar spent, some cards — especially gas station-branded cards — give you a specific discount, such as 6 cents off per gallon. But when gas costs $3 per gallon, that 6 cents off is a mundane 2 percent discount. Plus, with gas station cards, you typically can earn rewards and spend them only at a single brand.

Rewards at the gas station vs. pump. Most cards that offer outsized rewards on gas spending include all purchases at the service station, including snacks or wiper fluid bought in the associated convenience store. But some cards limit rewards to gas spending paid at the pump.

Example: The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card, with no annual fee, offers a generous 5 points per dollar spent, among its rewards. But it’s on gas at the pump only.

Warehouse cards have pros and cons. The Sam’s Club Mastercard offers 5 percent back on eligible gas purchases up to $6,000 per year, and the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi offers 4 percent back on eligible gas up to $7,000 per year. But you must be a member of those warehouse clubs, which means paying an annual membership fee. And redemption can be cumbersome.

All points are not created equal. Just because you’re earning 3 points per dollar spent doesn’t mean you’re getting the equivalent of 3 percent in rewards value. For example, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card gives 5 points per dollar spent on gas, but many redemption options are for a value of 0.85 cents per point instead of the more typical 1 cent.

More from NerdWallet:

How to choose a rewards credit card

Does your spending personality match your credit cards?

The meteoric rise and hard fall of gas station credit cards

Gregory Karp is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: gkarp@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @spendingsmart.

NerdWallet is a USA TODAY content partner providing general news, commentary and coverage from around the web. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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