The Corliss Group Review: Travelgirl tips: Start planning your holiday vacation now!

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) -  When it comes to holiday travel, flexibility will always be the key to getting the best rates and maintaining your sanity.

Travel off-peak to pay less and avoid the crowds. For example, everyone wants to travel the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Consider taking an extra day off on either end to get a better deal on your flight and avoid congestion on the roads and at the airport.

Another way to beat holiday travel stress is to create unique traditions. The calendar says Christmas is December 25th, but talk with your family and see if everyone can agree to celebrate the holiday on an alternate date, perhaps the weekend before or after. Flying family members could save a bundle, and the driving crowd will avoid highway crunch time.

Keep in mind that flights usually cost less if you travel on the actual holidays: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Eve.

If you’re lucky to have friends or relatives overseas, embrace opportunities to make international memories. Maybe a student is studying abroad, or a business executive is on temporary assignment. Take advantage of this alternate home base and make it this year’s “home for the holidays.” It will probably require more work and expense than driving over the river and through the woods, but you won’t regret it!

If you do plan to leave New Orleans for a foreign land, check your credit cards. Not only to confirm your credit limits, but also to be sure that the physical cards are chip-enabled. Many overseas ATMs require microchips that your cards may not have if you haven’t received a new one lately.

Call for a replacement card well in advance of your trip, and while you’re at it, ask about international fees. Some companies offer a “travel card” option with no international transaction fees, but these can take four to six weeks to arrive, so check with your credit card companies now, during the planning stages of your journey.

Start the holiday season right by giving yourself the gift of stress-relief when it comes to travel planning.

I’m Stephanie Oswald and I’ll see you next time.

The Corliss Group Review about Credit Card Rejection

You’ve spent months scouring the Internet for the perfect washer and dryer combo to complement your newly renovated laundry room. Finally, you’ve located what appears to be the perfect match at the right price.

Suddenly the deal is off. Your credit card won’t go through, and you have no other immediate form of payment to use before the sale ends.

It’s happened to many of us: You go to close the sale or pay for a meal and are told: “This card’s been denied. Do you have another form of payment?”

Don’t think that this is always a result of sheer financial irresponsibility.

Here are factors that could trigger a credit card rejection, along with tips to remedy the problem.

  1. Your card is maxed out

 

Going over the limit can have negative consequences, both in the form of fees and denials.

And it can also damage your credit because of the utilization factor, which accounts for 30 percent of your FICO score.

 

  1. Fraudulent purchases

 

Whether suspected or reported, they both prompt freezes. They could also result in the closure of the current account, followed by the issuance of a new card. To get to the bottom of it, promptly contact your credit card issuer to validate the purchases.

 

  1. Authorized user dropped from the account

 

If you are an authorized user on a credit card account, and the person whose name is on the card revokes your rights or completely pulls the plug, you’ll be cut off. You can also lose temporary access if the card has been reported as lost or stolen.

  1. Transactions holds

 

Some transactions, such as lodging, rental car or other travel reservations, could mandate a hold be placed on your account. Assuming you are cutting it close to the limit, your credit card could be rejected at a point of sale until you’ve paid the final bill and the holds are lifted.

 

  1. Foreign/internationa​l transactions

 

Foreign transactions can raise credit card companies’ suspicions about fraudulent purchases. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re in another country or here in the U.S. and making a foreign purchase online.

 

  1. Unusual purchases

 

If you make a purchase that seems odd based on your prior behavior, it may be flagged by the credit card company.

 

  1. Delinquent accounts

 

Ignore the balance due long enough and the magic plastic may suddenly lose all of its powers; it just depends on the issuer and your history with the company.

 

  1. You’re past the expiration date

 

If you didn’t get a new card in the mail before your card’s expiration date, they may not want you as a customer anymore. But don’t just ignore it: You could be a victim of mail fraud.

 

  1. Transposed numbers

 

Sometimes you’re asked to provide a ZIP code or the security code on the back of the card to confirm your identity at the point of sale. Mix up any of the digits and a rejection will follow. You can always retry, but enough errors will prompt a lockout until you’ve contacted the card company.

    10. A closed account

 

The credit card company can close your account for all sorts of reasons, and doesn’t have to give you advance notice. CreditCards.com said:

 

Even if you’re not in default, an issuer can boot you at any time. The most common reason is that you’re not using the account often enough.

The Corliss Group Review, Tourists in Italy be aware!

Urgent advice is being sent out to international tourists planning to travel to Italy. This advice is also valid for Italians moving around the country during the peak holiday season during the month in August.

“Be aware! Make a Difference” is the campaign that was launched at a press conference held by Italian State Railways (FS) and Polfer, the Italian railways police organization. The purpose of this alarming advice is alert naïve travelers to the danger of being cheated at any given opportunity in mass transit areas at major railway stations and on trains.

Brochures in eight languages (Italian, English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese) with effective graphics that are easy to understand have been produced as well as specific posters located in the more important railway stations and on trains. These will provide passengers with essential tips on how to prevent unpleasant incidents while moving around the country by rail.

Stickers bearing messages will be distributed and cartoons showing tactics thieves use will be shown on monitors in the main railway stations; the stickers will appear on self-service ticket vendor machines, on Frecciarossa trains (the fast and usually nonstop trains of FS), at ticket offices, and in Freccia Clubs (the special areas for Feccia Club card holders). The alert signs will be published in the free monthly corporate press magazine “La Freccia” through augmented reality technology on Smartphones. Passengers can avoid being the victims of theft and fraud by taking the precautions indicated in the above materials.

Over the first 7 months of the current year, 1,437 thefts occurred in railway stations, 2,045 on trains. 182 FS employees were assaulted while carrying out inspections and safeguarding passengers. An overall number of 795 people were arrested by police authorities, and 7,425 reported to judicial authorities.

“Through the ‘Be aware! Make a Difference’ initiative,” explained Franco Fiumara, General Director of Gruppo FS Italiane Corporate Security, “We aim to provide our customers [with] information illustrating how ill-intentioned individuals act in order to take advantage of travelers’ absent-mindedness. Security and personal safety when travelling by train and in stations begin with small but significant precautions. We intend to raise the awareness of travelers to ensure they pay more conscious attention to individuals trying to approach them using tricks of the trade and, therefore, take more care of their belonging[s]. These precautions and the intense work carried out by Gruppo FS Italiane Corporate Security staff and Railway police officers [should] ensure customers a more tranquil, serene, and safer journey.”

“Through this campaign,” affirmed Claudio Caroselli, Director of the Railway Police Department, “We want to raise the awareness of travelers, especially those from countries other than Italy who often trust the very individuals wishing to take advantage of such trust, at times pretending to be porters, ticket office or information office staff, and end up scamming or stealing from them. Making railway passengers more aware can lead to effective cooperation and, therefore, ensure that the prevention and repression measures taken every day by Railway police are more effective.”

ADDITIONAL ADVICE:

- Be aware of typical pickpocket-working environments (railway halls and lobbies, ticket offices, self-service areas, train arrival/departure platforms). Thieves often prefer crowded conditions.

- Be aware of your surroundings while using the self-ticketing dispensers. Prepare your purchase money beforehand, away from prying eyes.

- Beware of beggars. It could be a distraction tactic while an accomplice organizes the stealing of luggage.

- Always keep a watchful eye on your luggage while in your seat and on board a train.

- Pay very close attention to your valuables, even when kept inside a jacket pocket hanging at your side when sitting on a train.

- Do not leave any valuable items unattended on the table in front of your seat while stowing your luggage. No ticket? No departure! It is mandatory to travel with a valid ticket. Purchase a train ticket to honor your travel, not simply because of potential control.

- Do not acquire services from individuals not in possession of a valid license. Never entrust your luggage to strangers.

- Do not purchase food items from illegal vendors. Such items could endanger your health.

The Corliss Group review: Top travel tips for a hassle-free journey

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When is the best time to book a trip to Walt Disney World? What are the niftiest travel apps? How do you arrange a speedy Plan B if your flight is delayed or cancelled?

The answers to these and other travel questions from those in the know could make the difference between a pleasant journey and one you want to forget in a hurry.

During a Twitter discussion on Aug. 19 hosted by Reuters, a panel of experts fielded questions about travel. Below, we elaborate on the pundits’ responses beyond the 140 characters allowed in a tweet.

The panel comprised Brian Kelly, who runs ThePointsGuy.com; Tim Winship, editor and publisher of FrequentFlier.com, and Jason Cochran, editor of Frommers.com.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO BOOK HOLIDAY TRAVEL?

About four to six months in advance will likely give you the best chance to get better prices. Within a month or two of major holidays, prices tend to rise considerably.

It’s risky waiting for a last-minute deal. You could end up paying some of the highest fares, or not getting a flight at all.

AT THE AIRPORT, YOUR FLIGHT’S CANCELLED. WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

Call the airline reservation service to see what other flights they can get you on. If there’s a major cancellation, you’ll likely encounter a crowd at the airline’s customer service desk. If you have airline lounge access, try to find help there, too.

Consider using Twitter or other social media to get answers. But note: You’re more likely to get a prompt reply if you have a large social media following.

If your plans are disrupted and an immediate solution isn’t in the offing, feel free to show true emotion (without yelling or screaming). It can be discombobulating when you’re expecting to travel somewhere but are stuck along the way. Airlines are able and willing to compensate customers who have been thrown off course.

WHEN’S BEST TO VISIT DISNEY WORLD OR A SIMILAR THEME PARK?

Visiting theme parks at off-peak times can make for a very different and considerably more pleasant experience, partly because you’ll enjoy lower hotel rates.

If you can swing it, go while school is in session. A trip just before the winter holidays, for instance, will allow you to see the parks all decked out, while avoiding wall-to-wall crowds and multiple-hour-long waits for rides.

WHAT ARE SOME HANDY TRAVEL APPS?

Jason Cochran, editor of Frommers.com, recommends CityMapper. The app provides detailed transit information to help travelers get around in eight cities: New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., London, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid and Berlin.

He also likes Voxer, which turns a smartphone into a walkie-talkie, so you can talk to anyone else on the app for free. HiConverter converts just about any currency or measure.

Brian Kelly, of The Points Guy, likes the Uber app for car services, HotelTonight to get last-minute hotel deals, and TripIt to make his itineraries.

WHAT ARE SOME MUST-PACK TRAVEL ITEMS?

Among the recommendations: An extension cord (for hotel rooms with too few outlets in the wrong places), foam ear plugs, plastic zipper bags, a mini travel charger with USB ports that allows a single outlet to charge multiple devices, and noise-canceling headphones.

Also, don’t forget the dryer sheets.

Why dryer sheets? A scented one can be used to take the stink out of a trash can or drawer; it’s also handy for wiping lint off a computer screen or removing sticky stuff off a hotel iron.

The sheets, which could double up as bug repellent, may also repel other things – stuff one in a shoe, for example, to keep your suitcase fresh as a daisy.

Read this post here…

The Corliss Group Review: Don’t let a scammer ruin your vacation

It’s no fun getting scammed on vacation. Here’s how to reduce your risk.

Remove everything from your wallet that you won’t need on your travels. Only take the ID, credit cards and debit cards you’ll need.

The fraud fighters at the Federal Trade Commission advise leaving your Social Security card at home. If you have a Medicare card, make a copy and carry that and blot out all but the last four digits on it.

When you’re on the go, you’ll probably use public Wi-Fi. That can be risky.

“It may be free, but it may not be secure,” warns Adam Levin, chairman of IDentity Theft 911.  “You run the risk that something is sitting somewhere near you and intercepting what you’re sending.”

It’s important to make sure you’re on the authorized network before you connect. Scammers love to bait their victims with free connections.

“Hackers and thieves will set up hot-spots to look exactly like the one you think you’re at, but they’ll be spelled slightly differently or they’ll be an additional word in the name,” Levin explained.

By the way, if you travel with a laptop, keep a close eye on it. That’s especially important as you make your way through airport security.

For more update, just follow us on Twitter.

The Corliss Group review: Travel money tips

Packing for holidays. money Pic Robert Duncan 05 August  2014 Farfax online out

Credit and debit cards

Using your credit or debit card overseas is one of the most convenient options for accessing money on the go and you can feel secure knowing that your card provider is keeping an eye out for suspicious, potentially fraudulent activity, and that you’ll be reimbursed if the worst does happen and your card is stolen (so long as you’ve abided by your card provider’s conditions of use; for example, kept your PIN secret and reported the theft of your card immediately).

The major downside of using credit and debit cards overseas is fees. Most credit and debit cards will charge foreign-transaction fees (generally a percentage of the total) when you make purchases overseas, although some card providers waive these on certain card types (Bankwest’s platinum- level cards, for example). Debit cards are generally subject to a foreign ATM fee when you withdraw cash overseas – this is often a flat figure, so taking out larger amounts less frequently can be a good idea. And, just as at home, withdrawing cash from a credit card will attract a hefty cash-advance fee so avoid this unless it’s an emergency.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you may want to seek out credit and debit cards designed for travellers. GE Money’s 28 Degrees MasterCard, for example, has no international transaction fees on purchases, no currency conversion fees and no annual fee (as of the beginning of this year, it does attract a fee of 3 per cent or $4 – whichever is greater – for cash advances). In terms of debit cards, the Citibank Plus transaction account, which comes with a Visa debit card, is popular with travellers. Billed as Australia’s only fee-free bank account, cardholders can make free withdrawals at all of Citibank’s more than 20,000 ATMs in about 40 countries worldwide and the account does not attract foreign- transaction fees.

Regardless of which card you take, check its expiry date well in advance of setting off. If you’re taking a credit card, consider whether your current credit limit is sufficient. Going over your limit can attract fees and it’s no good planning to pay for accommodation at a cost of $3000 if your card limit is only $2000. Also check the daily limit on your debit card – often you’re not allowed to withdraw more than $1000 per day.

Notify your card provider that you’re heading overseas to avoid inadvertently raising a red flag with their fraud detection department and having your card frozen, and ensure they have a phone number to contact you on in case they want to query any transactions while you’re away. You should also make note of your card provider’s overseas contact number – if your card is stolen or compromised, you should let them know as soon as possible.

For more advice on using credit and debit cards overseas, consult your financial institution – many offer brochures and information online about accessing your money while you’re away.

Travel cards

If you want to lock in an attractive exchange rate ahead of time, pre-loading foreign currency on to a travel card may be the way to go. Travel cards work in a similar way to debit cards in that you’re spending your own money, which you’ve pre-loaded, eliminating the risk of an unexpectedly large credit card bill when you arrive home. Generally you’ll benefit from no transaction fees on purchases and some cards do not charge fees for using international ATMs. Some cards also come with a free backup card in case yours is lost and you may feel more secure knowing your card isn’t linked to your bank account, unlike a credit or debit card.

The downside of travel cards is the fees, some of which can catch unwary travellers off guard. Some cards will have fees for issuing the card, for loading or re-loading money, or if your account is inactive for a certain amount of time. Some will charge fees to transfer unspent cash off the card after your holiday ends, or for converting money on your card to a different currency.

There are many options on the market, so it’s worth shopping around – Choice magazine has warned that, if you’re not careful, the fees on a travel card can potentially outweigh the costs you might have incurred using your regular debit or credit card.

Most travel cards now allow you to load multiple currencies on to the one card – this can be as many as 13, as for the Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card. However, the selection of currencies available on most cards is relatively restrictive, so if you’re travelling to South America or Africa, for example, they may not be suitable for you.

Indeed, travel money cards can vary considerably, not only in terms of available currencies and fees but also the limits for individual loads, the card balance and daily ATM withdrawals, and the methods available to you in terms of buying, loading and accessing your card, and for accessing customer service. Different cards may suit different needs: many banks offer travel money cards, along with Australia Post and foreign exchange companies including Travelex and OzForex.

Some airline frequent-flyer programs now offer membership cards which can function in the same way as a pre-paid travel card while allowing you to earn points on purchases. Qantas’ Frequent Flyer membership card and Virgin Australia’s Velocity frequent flyer card have both been favourably reviewed.

Cash

For obvious reasons, it’s unlikely you’ll want to take your entire holiday spending money with you in cash but, regardless of your other arrangements, it’s worth having some hard currency to use at your destination before you depart. You can hunt around for the best rate and buy this from a bureau de change or bank before you leave (many banks also allow you to pre-order foreign currency online). Buying it at the airport before departure is convenient but the exchange rate can be considerably less than favourable.

Some travellers find that using cash helps them to keep track of their spending – handing over notes and coins feels more “real” than swiping a card – and if you’re mainly using a debit or credit card which is subject to foreign transaction fees, this can help to minimise such charges. And if you’re going somewhere where tipping is customary, you’ll need some small notes on hand.

Try to avoid taking out more foreign currency than you’re likely to spend and being stuck with it at the end. You’ll have to pay fees to convert it back to Australian dollars and may struggle to convert some currencies once you arrive home – I have a stash of leftover Zambian kwacha from a trip eight years ago to prove it.

General tips

Avoid accessing internet banking from public computers (e.g. internet cafes) and be cautious when banking over unsecured wi-fi connections.

Be aware that even if your card offers free ATM withdrawals overseas, individual ATM service operators may charge a fee.

Many larger overseas retailers may offer you the chance to pay in Australian dollars when using your credit or debit card – this is known as “dynamic currency conversion”. It’s usually best to pay in local currency: paying in Australian dollars will not necessary help you avoid foreign transaction fees and will generally mean accepting a less-favourable conversion rate.

Ensure you’ve more than one way of accessing your money – having a minimum of three, such as a credit card, travel or debit card and cash, seems sensible. Keep them in different places so that if your wallet is stolen, for example, you won’t be left high and dry.

Read it here

The Corliss Group Review on 10 Hotel Booking Mistakes

Booking a hotel seems pretty straightforward, right? And most times it is: Pick a destination, choose your dates, enter payment info and voila, happy travels!

However, there are some big blunders you could be making when it comes to hotel reservations. From booking on the wrong sites to forgetting to check some vital information, these mistakes could easily make or break your trip. Read on to find out what you must avoid when booking that hotel room.

Always expecting the best room

I was recently chatting with a front-desk agent about how her hotel chain distributes rooms at check-in. Curious, I asked what method her staff uses to determine who gets the best-located rooms. She revealed this surprising tidbit: Those who book through the hotel website or are hotel loyalty members usually get first dibs on room assignments, with the better views and quieter locations. Travelers who book through online travel agencies (OTAs), like Priceline, often receive “run of the house” rooms (what she called “ice-machine rooms,” or basically whatever is left). The agent couldn’t tell me just how many hotel chains do this, but she said it was a “fairly common practice” and that it sweetens the deal for travelers who book at regular rates.

Using incorrect arrival and departure dates

Of this travel sin, I am guilty as charged. On an overseas trip several years ago, I noted that my flight left on May 14th, so I booked my destination hotel starting the night of May 14th. Rookie mistake. I completely neglected to check that my flight was a red-eye that landed early in the morning of the 15th. This means I paid for an expensive (and nonrefundable) room that I didn’t need.

Not using a credit card

When booking a hotel, credit cards are king. Not only do credit cards offer rewards like airline miles, free night stays or cash-back bonuses, but they also offer certain guarantees that debit cards and cash do not (such as fraud protection or immediate refunds for mischarges).

Making reservations for the wrong hotel

Travelers, beware: A misleading hotel name or location description could lead you to book an airport hotel when you think you’re getting centrally located accommodations. You would be surprised how often travelers see the name of the hotel and reserve it quickly without checking to see if it’s located in the right place. After all, some hotels may call themselves “located near the heart of downtown,” but a quick search could reveal that it’s located at the airport … two hours away.

Not accounting for taxes and resort fees

Back in March, contributing editor Ed Perkins reported one of the most outrageous resort fees we’d seen yet. At a hotel in Colorado, the decent $170 room rate was artificially inflated with a $35 cleaning fee, a $40 resort fee, a $10 pool-and-spa fee, and a $5.10 processing fee. Ouch.

Not checking reviews

If you’ve ever taken a spin on Oyster’s Photo Fakeout feature, you know that hotels go to great lengths to make their properties seem perfect. But upon arrival, that infinity pool could really be the size of a postage stamp, and those sumptuous linens could feel like sandpaper. Take anything a hotel says about itself with a grain of salt (or sand).

Booking at the wrong time

As most procrastinators will readily admit, waiting until the last minute to make travel plans can have dire consequences for your credit card balance. Hotel rates can soar in the days leading up to a particular date, and you could be left without a room if everything books up (or if nothing left is within your budget). On the other hand, being an advanced planner can have its own disadvantages: Sure, you may want to have all of your travel ducks in a row as soon as possible, but it can actually cost you money to book your hotel room too early.

Not comparing prices

Saw a hotel you loved advertised at a “great price!” and immediately plunked down a credit card number and booked? Wrong: Without doing proper research, you could be missing out on big savings.

Booking nonrefundable rates

Every wondered why nonrefundable rates are cheaper than the regular rack rates, even if the room is the same? It’s because the hotelier benefits from the lower price, too. Locking you in at that low rate guarantees she or he won’t have an empty room, which would cost the hotelier money. Of course, trying to pinch a few pennies will end up costing you if you need to cancel.

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE: 10 hotel booking mistakes you don’t know you’re making