Monthly Archives

Monthly Archives for March 2012.

The Effect of Credit Card Signups on Credit Scores

One of the most-asked questions about credit cards is how does it affect your credit score, and of course the implied followup, do you care? I’ve signed up for scores of cards over many years and I still have an excellent credit score, it was nearly 800 FICO on the three major credit bureaus when I went to get my mortgage. In part because of signing up for more cards, rather than in spite of it. Each time you request credit, and your credit is pulled as a result, your score usually dips a little bit but just on the credit bureau that was pulled. So if an Experian credit report was pulled, the inquiry only shows up at Experian. Requests for credit suggest you might need credit, and lots of requests for credit can…

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Deals and Updates for the Morning of March 30, 2012

Radisson has introduced Club Carlson points purchase, $7 per 1000 points up to 40,000 points annually. Not worth it for its own sake but useful to top off towards awards at the margin. Live from a Lounge says Jet Airways is offering 20% off on mileage redemptions through September 30 for awards booked on Jet metal using their website. Priority Club’s new PointBreaks list, valid through May 31, are now available. The lists are in the process of being updated, e.g. as of this writing the Asia list still shows hotels available through March 31 only, but I’m told that interesting properties in Asia include the Intercontinentals in Manila and Ho Chi Minh City for the new period. PointBreaks offer redemptions at 5000 points per night. Mommypoints says that the US Airways Debit Card from…

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Booking Air France Business Class Awards with Delta Miles: IT Glitch Workaround

For the past few weeks Delta has been unable to book otherwise-available business class seats on Air France. That’s been true systemwide, and their only advice is to try to find Delta flights instead. Good luck with that (even if Delta serves your planned destination, Air France business class availability is generally good, Delta’s very much is not). Delta Points notes that the Asian call centers for Skymiles are now able to book these awards again, even though US call centers won’t see the availability. He suggests calling Hong Kong at 011 852 2810 4288. I’ve had good luck in the past with the Singapore call center, English is quite good: 011 65 6336 3371. Ask them to waive the telephone booking fee because the award cannot be booked online, some folks have been successful…

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Mileage Earning Changes and New Fees for Etihad Guest

Etihad, new American AAdvantage partner and new partial owner of oneworld member Air Berlin, has introduced a new mileage earning structure that bases mileage earning on fare class. Effective June 1, most economy fares will earn only 50% of miles flown. Only H, B, and Y fares will earn 100% miles in economy. Discounted business class will earn fewer miles than full fare business class, and discounted first class will earn fewer miles than full fare first class. Meanwhile, beginning June 1 any award booked through their service center will incur a fee of $20 or 2000 miles.

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Why TSA Airport Security is Actually Harmful, and Not Merely Ineffective

Bruce Schneier on why current airport security is actually harmful, and not just mere ineffective inconvenience: Kip Hawley doesn’t argue with the specifics of my criticisms, but instead provides anecdotes and asks us to trust that airport security—and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in particular—knows what it’s doing. He wants us to trust that a 400-ml bottle of liquid is dangerous, but transferring it to four 100-ml bottles magically makes it safe. He wants us to trust that the butter knives given to first-class passengers are nevertheless too dangerous to be taken through a security checkpoint. He wants us to trust the no-fly list: 21,000 people so dangerous they’re not allowed to fly, yet so innocent they can’t be arrested. He wants us to trust that the deployment of expensive full-body scanners has nothing to do with…

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Cheap Groundlink Car Service Offer Back on Jetsetter (sort of)

The Wall Street Journal yesterday picked up that car service company Groundlink has acquired Limo Anywhere. That minor piece of news might have escaped me, except that I’m been using Groundlink quite a bit lately, discovering them through a deal posted on Jetsetter back in January, a Groupon-esque offering that gave me a cheap airport pickup and introduced me to the company. It seems that Jetsetter is offering that deal again. If you aren’t already a member of Jetsetter, you can sign up with my link and if/when you purchase something from them, in theory I get a $25 credit. I’d love to find out if they’re actually going to honor credits earned through the Groundlink promotion, or at all. (Update: to be clear I wanted to see whether they would honor referrals to me…

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Free Hilton Gold Status, the Gift that Just Keeps Giving

Every time the December offer of Free Hilton Gold status, instantly, is declared dead… it keeps returning. Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, and… the ghost of Conrad Hilton’s mid-tier elite benefits. The offer was intended for Visa Infinite cardholders, and they asked you to enter the first six digits of your Visa Infinite card to prove you had one. That just unlocked the form, and then the status processed immediately. Over the course of the next three months there were various changes to the form. Since it was possible to just google what six digit bank identifiers were for Visa Infinite, they appeared to deactive the most popular and easy to find Russian one. Then they started matching account addresses to other bank identifiers, so folks using an Australian six digit number to unlock the form…

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When an Agent Says Award Seats Are Unavailable But You Know They Are…

Back in the era of United’s Starnet blocking — programming computers to say that frequent flyer award seats on partner airlines weren’t available, even when those partners were offering the seats, because United didn’t want to pay for the tickets — things got pretty silly. Agents would say, “I’m sorry, Lufthansa doesn’t fly to Frankfurt that day.” Or, “It doesn’t look like All Nippon flies from Washington Dulles to Tokyo.” Excuse me? “It’s call ANA flight number 1. I was at the party they held in DC to celebrate 20 years of continuous service.” See, at one time United’s computers ‘blocked’ award seats by simply not showing the flight existed. In the very beginning, the most common thing to block was Lufthansa seats inside Europe, the connections simply wouldn’t show up. Then Lufthansa transatlantic space,…

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Three Days Left to Vote in the Freddies — Who Are You Supporting?

It’s your last chance to Vote in the Freddie Awards. Balloting ends as the month of March comes to a close (my understanding: 11:59pm on March 31 in the last inhabited time zone — so for many of you, early Sunday morning). The Freddies are the award in the loyalty industry, honoring the best in airline, hotel, and credit card programs. And it’s the voice of the frequent traveler, voted on by the program’s members which makes it in many ways the most meaningful. In my experience talking with programs, I’ve learned that they really do want to win these awards, in fact they want these awards the most, and at the margins they do listen to their customers and hear them through the awards, and have made changes or avoided making changes with an…

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