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Which is the best Visa/MasterCard for travelers?

by Captain G on Dec.26, 2012, under Travel Partners

I know most business travelers are American Express Platinum or Starwood (SPG) credit cardholders. However we all need to carry a Visa or MasterCard in our wallet just in case we are traveling outside of the US where AMEx isn’t accepted.

I have a Nordstrom Visa card which carries a fairly low foreign transaction fees and my perk is a $20 certificate for 2,000 points earned (2 points per $1 for Nordstrom purchases and 1 point per $1 on everything else). I found an expired Nordstrom $20 certificate today and called Nordstorm credit card to see if they can send me a replacement. I spoke to a representative, then a supervisor and neither budged. I even told them that I would cancel my card and they did not seem to care. On principle I am going to stop using this card.

Another lesson learned from this experience is not to age anything - points, certificates, etc. This sentence is actually directed to the Coach who loves to save his points :-)

Now I have an empty credit card slot in my wallet and want to know the community’s recommendations for which is the best Visa or MasterCard to serve as my backup to my SPG AMEX. I’m leaning towards one of the Chase Visa cards at the moment.

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How to keep your USAir Dividend Miles account active or reinstate it after inactivity

by Captain G on Dec.12, 2012, under Airlines, Travel Partners

USAirways requires you to stay active on their Dividend Miles account by either depositing or redeeming miles once every 18 months. Otherwise you’ll forfeit your USAir miles. American, United and many other major US airlines have a similar policy. Unfortunately I forgot to keep my USAir Dividends Miles active as I have been banking all my USAir flight miles on United for the past two year.

I recently received an email from USAir asking for $9 to reinstate my USAir miles. I quickly paid and got my 72,810 miles back! For those who needs to keep their USAir Dividend Miles account active, I strongly recommend you get a magazine here: USAir Dividend Miles Redemption Options

Alternative you can bank your rental car activities to your USAir Dividend Miles account. However you’ll have to pay a small mileage deposit fee to the car rental company. Here’s a previous post regarding how you can avoid paying the frequent flyer mileage charges on your rental.

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How to avoid expensive roaming charges while traveling abroad

by Captain G on Nov.09, 2012, under Business Tools, Business Travel, Vacation

Are you are a global traveler from the US who wants to be reached via your US mobile number while you are in a foreign country and do not want to pay roaming charges of US$2.50 per minute? Here are three simple steps to avoid paying excessive roaming fees to the likes of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint:

1. Sign up to a call forwarding service provider like: One Suite for a monthly fee ($2.95). The call forwarding service provider (One Suite) will assign you a US number that can be routed to any number in the world for a very low fee (i.e., no more than US$0.05 per minute).

2. Forward your US mobile number to the routing service provider.

There are two types of call forwarding services in the US:  unconditional (*72) and conditional (*68 or *28). Unconditional call forwarding means all calls will go to the forwarded number and may carry extra charges by your mobile carrier (I know Sprint charges $0.20 per minute). I recommend conditioning call forwarding (when there’s no answer or a busy signal) which is free and works just as well to avoid extra charges.

To forward your call using conditional forwarding, enter *68[415-867-5309] where 415-867-5309 is the number you received from your call forwarding service provider. This will tell your current mobile carrier to forward all your calls to 415-867-5309 when there’s a busy signal or no answer. Your phone will be considered “off” by your mobile carrier which means all your calls will be forwarded to the call forwarding number. If you are on the Sprint or Nextel network, you will need to use:  *28 instead of 68. If you’re on Verizon, you may have to use *71.

Click on this link for more information on call forwarding codes.

NOTE:   Execute this step before you leave the US so you are not incurring voice roaming charges while abroad.

3. When you’re abroad, purchase a pre-paid SIM card from a local carrier. Login to your call forwarding service provider’s website and forward the assigned number [415-867-5309] to the pre-paid SIM card [+52-55-9876-5432] you have just purchased.

Below is a diagram to illustrate the three simple steps.

This process may seem a bit complicated compared to a service like Skype. However it is reliable and you don’t need to give out another US number to your current contacts. The rates are also very affordable and it’s the easiest way to keep your US number while you’re traveling abroad.

When you’ve returned from your trip, simply go on your phone and hit *81 or *38 (for Sprint) to deactivate unconditional forwarding mode.

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