How the Selfie May Limit Your Credit Card Rewards

President Barack Obama poses for a selfie with Bill Nye, left, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson in the Blue Room prior to the White House Student Film Festival, Feb. 28, 2014.  (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
Jul 04 2015

Some people sign up for credit cards in the name of family members (who are willing participants) — they want the bonus miles, but spouse or sibling doesn’t want to deal with meeting minimum spend and doesn’t themselves value the miles.

Things get tricky when it comes time to cancelling, a male voice may have a hard time calling to cancel a woman’s card (so cancel by mail or online). And meeting minimum spend either needs to be done with an authorized user card, or online.

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Review: Air New Zealand Temporary Lounge Sydney

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Jul 04 2015

The last stop on my Sydney lounge tour was the Air New Zealand temporary lounge.

The temporary lounge was.. interesting. It’s a drab, windowless space that was definitely too small for all of the passengers it was servicing. Like the rest of the downstairs lounges, the ceilings weren’t especially high. This one had no windows.

But it did retain the Air New Zealand hot dog stand.

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Which Bank Points-Earning Card is Best: Chase, Citibank, or American Express?

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Jul 04 2015

I’m a big believer in points that you can transfer to a variety of different frequent flyer programs — instead of earning miles with one airline or points with one hotel chain, you pick where you want the points to go later based on what you want to do with the points and who has the availability you need.

Over the past year both Citibank and American Express have improved their offerings for strongest-earning points cards.

Each bank now has a $95 annual fee card (ThankYou Premier and Sapphire Preferred are $0 the first year) that earns quickly with strong bonuses for spending.

Just how quickly depends on what your spending patterns are like. And which card offers the most valuable points depends on what you’re going to do with them. But we can make some useful generalizations about which points are best.

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Review: Skyteam Lounge Sydney Airport

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Jul 04 2015

Right beside the American Express lounge is the Skyteam lounge, and as a Delta business class passenger I had access. So that became my second stop on the day’s lounge tour of the Sydney airport before my flight back to Los Angeles. Hence I have the opportunity to offer this Skyteam Lounge Sydney review.

The lounge features internet, showers and power at each seat. The lounge is about 8000 square feet and advertised to support either 140 or 150 passengers.

There’s ample seating and tarmac views to be sure, though I found the ceilings a bit low and the overall feel of the lounge to be less uplifting than the windows and bright furnishings would have you expect.

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My Mid-Year Elite Status Update: Am I Walking the Talk?

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Jul 04 2015

I share my thoughts and advice on loyalty programs all of the time, I thought it would be useful to also share what I do and let you evaluate whether I practice my own advice.

At the same time, where I focus my own stays (and how much I’m traveling) may be illuminating and sharing this gives me an opportunity to articulate some of my own thinking.

Overall I have about 70,000 qualifying miles and several non-qualifying award trips under my belt after six months. In addition I have 60 qualifying nights between my two main hotel programs. And of course I wind up in hotels outside of those chains, and on other airlines as well.

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What If Retailers Had No Liability on Their Books for Redeeming Rewards?

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Jul 03 2015

Frequent flyer miles are proprietary currency where the issuer offers the promise of redemptions (although airlines at least have no obligation to honor that promise).

What if a retailer created their own currency but didn’t promise to accept it for redemptions? That seems to me like a bad idea, but there’s a company promoting just such a thing. Somehow other businesses would still accept the currency as payments for their merchandise.

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How Hot is Too Hot? Should Airlines Refuse to Board Aircraft When Cabins Heat Up Over the Summer?

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Jul 03 2015

Planes can get pretty hot on the ground during the summer, especially when they’re not running the air conditioning with auxiliary power.

Passengers are often asked to close the shades upon landing, keeping out the sun keeps the cabin from heating up as much. On boarding all the windows are closed and most passengers leave them that way. Once the engines start running, and the plane gets up in the air, things cool down quickly.

American Airlines will board a plane if the temperature is less than 90 degrees, though as always this is at the discretion of the pilot. US Airways’ policy has been an 85 degree maximum…

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