Category: Travel

Best credit cards for Airbnb

by Phillip Warren

Many of us are avoiding travel during the pandemic.

But if you have to shelter in place under quarantine once you get to your destination, wouldn’t you rather do it in an environment that at least seems more within your control?

If the choice is between a hotel where you must trust your experience to a faceless corporation or a local host you can talk to through homestay sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, the latter may be the better option for these times (provided you don’t violate their party guidelines).

Whatever option you choose, credit card issuers now reward homestays with points and cash back in the same way they’ve long doled out rewards for hotels and other travel expenses.

These are the best cards on the market for homestays like Airbnb.

See related: Strategies for planning 2021 travel

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Best no-annual-fee, high rewards option
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best introductory bonus
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Best for bonus rewards
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best flat-rate miles card
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card: Best for online shopping
  • Discover it® Miles: Best no-fee option
  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Best no-annual-fee, high rewards option

    The Wells Fargo Propel American Express card includes arguably one of the highest rates of return on points for some of the most popular redemption categories out there, including homestays like Airbnb and Vrbo.

    The greatest advantages of this card – besides earning 3 points per dollar spent on some popular spending categories – are that there’s no point limit or expiration, no annual fee and no rotating categories that you constantly have to remind yourself to activate. You get three times the points in the relevant categories all the time without restriction, with travel – including all homestays – and transit being one of those prominent categories.

    The card also charges no foreign currency conversion fee, so buying things abroad is less expensive. If that weren’t enough, here’s what you also get:

    • 3 points per dollar spent on travel and transit purchases
    • 3 points per dollar spent on eating out and ordering in
    • 3 points per dollar spent on gas and rideshares
    • 3 points per dollar spent on select streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, Sirius XM and Spotify Premium
    • 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else
    • No annual fee
    • No points limit or expiration
    • Premium access to presale tickets, offers and protections from American Express
    • 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months
    ProudMoney.

    Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best introductory bonus

    Before the Wells Fargo Propel card debuted, Chase Sapphire Reserve was the go-to credit card option for Airbnb fans. It offers a 50,000-point introductory bonus when you spend $4,000 in your first three months of membership. Those points are worth up to $750 when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

    Though equipped with fewer spending categories offering 3X points and carrying a large annual fee of $550, the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card are more specifically geared toward frequent travelers.

    At the same time, that large annual fee is offset by a $300 annual credit that will reimburse any travel expense – including Airbnb. And from June 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, gas station and grocery store purchases count toward the travel credit.

    Add to that a $100 credit covering the application to Global Entry/TSA Precheck every four years and the annual fee is almost completely offset in the first year.

    Meanwhile, there are even more travel benefits:

    • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months (worth up to $750 in travel)
    • 3 points per dollar spent on travel (excluding purchases covered by the $300 travel credit)
    • 3 points per dollar spent on dining (including delivery and takeout) and travel; $1,000 in grocery purchases, including eligible pick-up and delivery services, from Nov. 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021
    • Complimentary airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select Membership
    • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
    • Primary car rental insurance
    • Lost luggage reimbursement

    Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Best for bonus rewards

    While the points per dollar offered by Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card on travel and Airbnb are fewer than the credit cards above, the sign-up bonus and up to $200 in annual statement credits make it a decent option, even with less flexibility on what qualifies as a credit than the credit cards above.

    This card should absolutely move to the top of your list if you are already a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client. That designation automatically increases your return even higher than what the other credit cards above offer on travel and dining – you can get a rewards bonus of up to 75%.

    Combine that with a generous sign-up bonus and the Bank of America Premium Rewards is one of the most potent rewards cards for Preferred Rewards clients.

    The card includes:

    • Introductory bonus: 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days (worth up to $500 in free travel)
    • 2 points per dollar spent on dining and travel purchases, including Airbnb and Vrbo
    • 1.5 points per dollar spent on everything else
    • Get up to $200 in travel statement credit rewards, including $100 for incidental spending per year and $100 toward a TSA Precheck/Global Entry application every four years
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients earn up to 3.5 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases and up to 2.62 points per dollar on all other purchases
    • $95 annual fee
    Travel loyalty programs offer extended perks in pandemic

    Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best flat-rate miles option

    The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is remarkably similar to Bank of America’s Premium Rewards card, right down to the $95 annual fee, but without the additional benefits afforded to Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients.

    However, Capital One Venture Rewards offers 2 points per dollar spent on every purchase, not just travel and dining.

    • Earn 60,000 travel miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months – equaling $600 in travel credit
    • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on every purchase, every day
    • Points can be redeemed for statement credit on travel purchases, including Airbnb
    • $95 annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fees

    Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card: Best for online shopping

    You may be wondering why the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card is on a list highlighting the best credit cards for AirBnb, Vrbo and other homestays.

    Shouldn’t this card be limited to the “best credit cards for online shopping” list? Not when Amazon offers Airbnb gift cards and the Amazon Prime Rewards card gives you 5% cash back on Amazon.com purchases as long as you have a Prime membership, which essentially acts as the annual fee ($119).

    Just purchase an AirBnb gift card from Amazon with the card, and it’s as if you are getting 5% cash back for your AirBnb stay when you apply the gift card towards it. It’s the highest rate on this list, Amazon or not.

    You’ll receive the following additional benefits:

    • 5% cash back on Whole Foods and Amazon purchases (with Prime membership)
    • 2% cash back on purchases at drugstores, gas stations and restaurants
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases
    • A $100 Amazon gift card upon credit card application approval
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • $500,000 travel accident insurance
    • $3,000 per passenger lost luggage reimbursement
    • Baggage delay insurance of up to $100 a day for three days
    • Extended warranty coverage for an additional year

    See related: How to pay off Amazon purchases over time

    Discover it® Miles: Best no-fee option

    Though the points per dollar on this card are lower than any other credit card on the list, Discover it Miles gives you much more freedom in how you can manage your points and account.

    You can redeem miles in any amount, your miles don’t expire even if you close your account and 1% of your miles can be converted directly into cash for your bank account.

    Discover it Miles offers:

    • 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on every purchase (matched at the end of the first year)
    • Points can be redeemed for statement credit on travel expenses, including Airbnb, gas stations and restaurants.
    • Miles can be converted into cash at rate of 1 cent per mile and transferred directly into your bank account
    • Redeem miles in any amount
    • Miles never expire and you don’t lose them even when you close your account
    • No late payment fee or penalty APR on your first late payment, up to $40 thereafter
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • No annual fee
    • 0% APR on purchases for 14 months (11.99% to 22.99% variable APR after that)
    creditcards.com

    5 Speedy Ways to Come Up With a Down Payment

    by Phillip Warren
    Sally Elford/Getty Images

    The best way for first-time home buyers to come up with a down payment for a home: save for one, of course! But sometimes you’re in a hurry. Maybe your dream house just popped up on the market, or you’ve simply had it with being a renter. Whatever the reason, you’re ready to buy a house, now. But while your credit is good and your career is stable, you still need to come up with that big chunk of change for a down payment.

    Watch: 4 Things You Can Give Up to Make a Down Payment

     

    Never fear: There are plenty of ways to amass a sizable down payment fast. Check out these tactics, along with their pros and cons.

    1. Dip into your 401(k)

    If you’ve been socking away money in your 401(k), it is possible to borrow from that for a home loan—and get that cash in hand fast.

    “Most 401(k) plans allow you to borrow up to 50% of the vested balance, or up to $50,000, and it takes about a week,” says Todd Huettner, owner of Huettner Capital, a residential and commercial real estate lender in Denver.

    But it will cost you: If you take funds out of your 401(k) early—that is, before you’re 59½ years old—you’re going to take a 10% penalty on that withdrawn money. And it counts as gross income, which can bump you into a higher tax bracket.

    Check out this Wells Fargo calculator to see what your penalties would be. In addition to penalties, most companies require you to repay that vested money over five years—or sooner if you quit or get axed. So be sure your career is stable.

    2. Crack your IRA

    Digging into your IRA usually carries the same 10% penalty of breaking open your 401(k) piggy bank, with one major difference: The penalty doesn’t apply to first-time home buyers. And unlike a 401(k), you don’t have to repay what you take out of an IRA. However, the withdrawal is still taxable. Plus there’s the matter of not repaying yourself, which can hurt your long-term retirement. So if you take out a sizable chunk, restoring this nest egg to its former level will take you many years.

    3. Hit up your boss

    Let’s get real: You don’t want to stroll into your boss’ office and demand help buying your house. But you can ask if your company has an employer-assisted housing program. Think about it: Companies hate employee turnover, so what better way to keep you around than pitching in to help you buy a home? It’s a win-win: Home loans are often low- or zero-interest and are usually structured to be forgivable over a period of time, often five years, which further encourages employees to stay put. The downside? Not all employers offer it. Hospitals and universities most often do, so be sure to ask to avoid overlooking this ready source of financial assistance.

    4. Explore state and city programs

    Local assistance programs abound to help you scratch up cash for a down payment. Offered by either your state, your city, or nonprofits, these programs often partner with banks, who hope to gain clientele they might pass over otherwise: Bank of America, for instance, recently launched a searchable database of local programs. Wells Fargo’s partnership with NeighborhoodLIFT offers down payment assistance up to $15,000.

    The catch? You’ll need to qualify. For NeighborhoodLIFT, for instance, your household income has to be no more than 120% of the median in your area.

    5. Get a gift from family or friends

    Understandably, many home buyers turn to their family for help buying a home, and for good reason: There are no limits on how much a family member can “gift” another family member, although only a specific portion can be excluded from taxes ($14,000 per parent).

    But it’s not just as easy as that. Gifters, even family, will need to provide paperwork in the form of a gift letter. And if the gifter is a friend, it gets even more complicated. For example, you’ll have to wait about 90 to 120 days before you can use any of those funds.

    The post 5 Speedy Ways to Come Up With a Down Payment appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.


    Source: realtor.com

    Why is the Homeownership Rate Soaring?

    by Phillip Warren

    Homeownership makes many positive social contributions, but the most important may be that it is the predominant way families build wealth. And now, numbers are soaring.

    The post Why is the Homeownership Rate Soaring? appeared first on Homes.com.


    Source: homes.com

    A Guide To Everything You Need To Know About Home Ownership Costs [Free Download]

    by Phillip Warren

    Along with the excitement of purchasing a new home, comes the additional costs that you will be expected to pay as a homeowner. Apart from covering the mortgage of your home, you’ll have additional expenses – such as home insurance – that you will be expected to cover. If you’re looking to budget for a home purchase, it’s important that you consider these costs as they can add up to thousands of dollars each year.

    To help you make educated decisions when budgeting, we’ve compiled a list of the major home ownership costs in one free, downloadable guide. Get the Home Ownership Costs to Consider guide here.

    Home Insurance

    Home insurance policies help protect against serious damage and destruction, like fires, leaks, floods, or break-ins. It also protects a homeowner from personal liability. Some banks may offer home insurance products, although you can typically purchase a home insurance policy through a home insurance agent or broker. 

    Tip: You may get better rates if you use a broker or agent. It’s also important to keep in mind that policies typically renew on an annual basis.

    Condo Fees

    The cost of maintenance fees should be taken into account when you’re buying a condo. This recurring cost is in addition to your mortgage and impacts how much home you can afford. 

    Your mandatory monthly fee will vary by your building and square footage. It typically covers:

    • Utilities (such as water and garbage collection)
    • Building insurance
    • Maintenance of common areas (such as the gym, pool, front desk, hallways, landscaping)
    • Building reserve fund (covers emergencies and long-term maintenance projects such as a new roof or elevators repairs)

    What Are Status Certificates?

    If you’re looking to purchase a condo, you’ll want to look into obtaining a status certificate so that you have as much information about the building and your unit as possible before buying. A status certificate provides valuable information about the condo corporation and its financial

    situation. It includes details on the budget, legal issues, the reserve fund, maintenance fees, and any fee increases expected in the future. 

    Tip: You’ll want to carefully review your status certificate with your lawyer before making a purchase.

    Property Tax

    Property taxes are paid annually by homeowners to their municipality. These taxes are ongoing and are separate from your mortgage. Your annual property tax can often be paid in installments.

    Tip: It’s important to remember that this cost is not due at closing, but is a recurring cost.

    How Are Property Taxes Calculated?

    Your property tax rate will vary depending on the value of your property as assessed by your provincial assessment authority. This is then multiplied by a rate that falls between 0.5% to 2.5%.

    How Do You Pay Property Taxes?

    You can pay your property taxes either through your mortgage provider or directly to your municipality. 

    Your Utility Bills

    When you purchase a home, you’ll have to set up or transfer your utility bills to your new home. If you live in a condo, these costs may be included in your monthly maintenance fee. Your utility bill will include:

    • Hydro (electricity)
    • Heat
    • Water and Garbage
    • Internet, Phone, Cable

    For the full details on the home buyer’s journey including examples, advice, pictures and sample calculations, download a copy of our free Home Ownership Costs to Consider Guide here.

    The post A Guide To Everything You Need To Know About Home Ownership Costs [Free Download] appeared first on Zoocasa Blog.


    Source: zoocasa.com

    Airline, hotel loyalty programs extending perks for members through coronavirus

    by Phillip Warren

    While COVID-19 has affected all parts of daily life, the travel industry has certainly been put on hold as people have had to cancel plans and stay at home. Since most travelers plan many months in advance, this also leaves many holding tickets they can no longer use. Frequent flyers and hotel loyalty members are left wondering what recourse they have, if any, when it comes to their member status and points or miles.

    We researched the major players in the hotel and airline industry to find out how these companies plan to accommodate their valued members – by extending points, status levels and more – in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Coronavirus relief measures by loyalty or travel program

    • Hilton Honors
    • Marriott Bonvoy
    • IHG Rewards Club
    • World of Hyatt
    • Wyndham Rewards
    • Choice Privileges
    • United MileagePlus
    • Delta SkyMiles
    • American Airlines AAdvantage
    • JetBlue TrueBlue
    • Southwest Rapid Rewards
    • Virgin Atlantic
    • British Airways
    • CLEAR
    • TSA Precheck
    • Global Entry

    Hilton Honors

    In addition to donating up to one million rooms to medical professionals, Hilton has promised to compensate its Hilton Honors loyalty program members in a number of ways.

    Lower status requirements

    Hilton has cut status qualification requirements by half.

    Elite status Previous status requirements New status requirements
    Silver status 4 stays, 10 nights or 25,000 base points 2 stays, 5 nights or 12,500 base points
    Gold status 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 base points 10 stays, 30 nights or 37,500 base points
    Diamond status 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 base points 15 stays, 30 nights or 60,000 base points

    Status extension

    For any Silver, Gold or Diamond members that were due to downgrade in 2020 or 2021, statuses will be extended through March 31, 2022.

    Cardholder benefits

    Weekend night rewards on eligible Hilton credit cards that were not expired by May 1, 2020, will now be valid through August 31, 2021, and certificates issued from May 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, are valid for 24 months from the date of issuance. All free weekend night certificates issued in 2021 can be used any night of the week and expiration is extended until Dec. 31, 2022.

    Additionally, bonus points will continue to count as base points on eligible purchases through Dec. 31, 2021, and toward elite status tier qualification, including Lifetime Diamond Status.

    Other rewards

    All 2020 elite qualifying nights will be rolled over to the 2021 status year. This applies to all nights members have already completed or will complete this calendar year.

    On top of that, Hilton has lowered the requirements to earn Milestone Bonuses for 2021. Previously, you could earn 10,000 bonus points every 10 nights after completing 40 nights in a calendar year. Starting in January, that requirement has been changed to 20 nights stayed to align with the new Gold qualification level. However, 60 nights will still earn you 30,000 points.

    Diamond members will be able to gift Gold status for staying 30 nights in 2021 instead of 60 nights which was the previous requirement. The requirement to gift Diamond status is lowered to 60 nights instead of 100.

    To ensure member safety, Hilton is providing flexible cancellations and full points refunds for all Hilton Honors experiences booked through May 31, 2021.

    You can follow further updates for Hilton Honors members on the loyalty program website.

    Marriott Bonvoy

    Marriott plans to compensate its Marriott Bonvoy members, although benefits may vary depending on members’ location.

    See related: Marriott data breach involves 5.2 million hotel guests

    Status extension

    Bonvoy members who earned elite status for 2020 can now enjoy their benefits through February 2022.

    Points extension

    Points set to expire by February 2021 will be paused, and no points will expire until after that time period. 

    Other rewards

    Active free night awards (as part of Marriott credit cards or packages) set to expire beginning March 1, 2020, will be extended through Aug. 1, 2021. Additionally, more recent certificates set to expire before July 31, 2021, will be extended through that date as well. Suite night awards set to expire by Dec. 31, 2020, will be extended another year through Dec. 31, 2021.

    Additionally, Marriott will deposit Elite Night Credits into Bonvoy elite members’ accounts in the amount of 50% of the nights required for the status they earned in 2019. This can make it easier for the members to reach the next tier.

    Elite Night Credits deposit breakdown

    Elite status Annual tier requirements Extra elite night credits
    Ambassador Elite 100 Qualifying Nights and $20,000 stay spend 50 Elite Night Credits
    Titanium Elite 75 Qualifying Nights 38 Elite Night Credits
    Platinum Elite 50 Qualifying Nights 25 Elite Night Credits
    Gold Elite 25 Qualifying Nights 13 Elite Night Credits
    Silver Elite 10 Qualifying Nights 5 Elite Night Credits

    Stay up to date on relief measures for Bonvoy members on the company’s COVID-19 page.

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    IHG Rewards Club

    Due to travel constraints and shortened travel periods, IHG has lowered its requirements for elite status membership by 25% or more, as well as extended statuses and points for all members (since elite members’ points never expire). 

    Lower status requirements

    Status Previous qualification requirements New qualification requirements
    Gold
    • 10,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
    • 10 qualifying nights in a calendar year
    • 7,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
    • 7 qualifying nights in a calendar year
    Platinum
    • 40,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
    • 40 qualifying nights in a calendar year
    • 30,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
    • 30 qualifying nights in a calendar year
    Spire
    • 75,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
    • 75 qualifying nights in a calendar year
    • 55,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or
    • 55 qualifying nights in a calendar year

    See related: The benefits of IHG Rewards Club elite status

    Status extension

    Program statuses will be extended through January 2022 for all members. Spire elite members will also retain their Choice benefit of 25,000 bonus points or gifting of Platinum Elite status to someone each year.

    Award certificates 

    Anniversary night certificates (U.S. and U.K. only) set to expire before March 1, 2020, will be extended through the end of the year. All 2020 certificates will be redeemable for 18 months, instead of the usual 12. Some members have also reported that free night certificates expiring before Dec. 31, 2020, will be extended until August 2021.

    Follow updates to IHG Rewards Club benefits on the program’s travel advisory page.

    World of Hyatt

    The World of Hyatt loyalty program will extend all statuses and rewards to compensate valued members.

    Status extension

    All active elite statuses, as of March 31, 2020, will be extended through Feb. 28, 2022. 

    Points extension

    Forfeiting points due to inactivity will be suspended through June 30, 2021. No points will expire until that date.

    Other rewards

    Any earned rewards, such as free nights or upgrades, set to expire between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021.

    Check the updates to Hyatt relief measures on the program’s COVID-19 page.

    online.

    Keep an eye on Wyndham’s COVID-19 statement page for updates.

    Choice Privileges

    It took Choice some time to follow suit and join other hotel chains in extending elite statuses and offering other promotions amid the outbreak. On May 21, 2020, the company announced a series of offers to expand the benefits of its Choice Privileges loyalty program.

    “Even during this crisis, our members found a number of ways to engage with us and make a difference,” said Jamie Russo, vice president, loyalty programs and customer engagement, Choice Hotels. “Some of them are essential and frontline workers who chose to stay in our small-business hotels, and others showed their generosity by donating their Choice Privileges points to aid recovery efforts. Our latest loyalty program changes tell our members that we appreciate their continued support and our hotels are here to welcome them whenever they feel safe traveling again.”

    Status extension

    All members’ current elite statuses will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021.

    Lower status requirements

    Choice is also easing requirements to qualify for elite status in 2021.

    Elite status Previous status requirements 2021 status requirements
    Gold status 10 nights 7 nights
    Platinum status 20 nights 15 nights
    Diamond status 40 nights 25 nights

    Additionally, Choice is giving current elite members a limited-time upgrade to the next tier. Gold members will be upgraded to Platinum status and Platinum members will be upgraded to Diamond. Additionally, members who stayed at least five nights by Dec. 31, 2020, will be able to keep their upgraded tier through 2021.

    United MileagePlus

    United has said it would compensate their MileagePlus members by extending all annual memberships, subscriptions and checked bag benefits for six months. United also plans to make status membership requirements easier and will release information later in 2020.

    Status extension

    All MileagePlus Premier members will get to retain their 2020 status through Jan. 31, 2022.

    Lower status requirements

    MileagePlus Premier membership now has easier requirements, reduced 50% for each status level.

    2021 status Premier qualifying flights and PQP … or PQP
    Silver 6 2,000 2,500
    Gold 12 4,000 5,000
    Platinum 18 6,000 7,500
    1K 26 9,000 12,000

    Other rewards

    All valid travel certificates issued on or after April 1, 2020, will be extended to be valid for two years for booking, as well as up to an additional 11 months to travel. All redeposit fees for flights booked through May 31, 2020, will be waived, as well as all fees for members who cancel within at least 30 days of departure.

    Follow more updates to United MileagePlus on the program’s travel notice page.

    Delta SkyMiles

    Delta has stepped up to say they will compensate their Medallion members by extending their Member status.

    Status extension

    2020 Medallion Member status will be extended through Jan. 31, 2022, and this change should be reflected on the member’s SkyMiles account by Feb. 1, 2021. Additionally, all 2020 Medallion Qualification Miles will roll over into 2021.

    Follow updates to the Delta SkyMiles program on the coronavirus travel update page.

    American Airlines AAdvantage

    As AAdvantage members experience reduced travel opportunities due to the coronavirus, American Airlines is offering elite status extension, lowering elite status requirements and allowing eligible cardholders to earn miles toward Million Miler status with credit card spend.

    Status extension

    Members whose elite status expires on Jan. 31, 2021, will automatically get an extension until Jan. 31, 2022.

    Lower status requirements

    Members will be able to qualify for a higher elite status in 2021 with lower requirements, including Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD), Elite Qualifying Mile (EQM) and Elite Qualifying Segment (EQS).

    Gold oneworld Ruby Platinum oneworld Sapphire Platinum Pro oneworld Sapphire Executive Platinum oneworld Emerald
    • $2,000 EQDs and 20,000 EQMs or
    • $2,000 EQDs and 20 EQSs
    • $4,500 EQDs and 40,000 EQMs or
    • $4,500 EQDs and 45 EQSs
    • $7,000 EQDs and 60,000 EQMs or
    • $7,000 EQDs and 70 EQSs
    • $12,000 EQDs and 80,000 EQMs or
    • $12,000 EQDs and 95 EQSs

    Cardholder benefits

    The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® cardholders who hold a companion certificate expiring Dec. 31, 2020, will receive a six-month extension as well, bringing the expiration date to June 30, 2021.

    Learn more about AAdvantage program updates on aa.com.

    JetBlue TrueBlue

    JetBlue took a bit longer to join other airlines in taking measures to support loyal customers. On May 14, 2020, JetBlue announced it’s extending Mosaic elite statuses, as well as making it easier to earn one.

    Status extension

    All currently valid Mosaic elite statuses will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021.

    Lower status requirements

    JetBlue is reducing the qualifying thresholds for Mosaic status by 50% for 2021. To earn the status this year, you’ll need to earn 7,500 qualifying TrueBlue base points or 6,000 qualifying TrueBlue base points and 15 flight segments.

    Alternatively, you can get the elite status by spending $50,000 in annual net purchases on the JetBlue Plus card – this spending requirement hasn’t changed for 2020.

    Virgin Atlantic

    Virgin Atlantic has also made it easier for customers to earn and maintain elite status amid the pandemic.

    Status extension

    In March 2020, Virgin Atlantic extended status for Gold and Silver members, allowing them an additional six months to meet the requirements.

    On Aug. 20, 2020, the airline added another six months to the extension, making it one year in total.

    Other rewards

    Starting Sept. 1, 2020, the Flying Club program members will be able to earn tier points on award flights, meaning they’ll be able to earn elite-qualifying points on flights where they used Flying Club miles to redeem for travel.

    On top of that, Virgin Atlantic makes it easier for members to earn and redeem Companion Vouchers, Upgrade Vouchers and Clubhouse Vouchers.

    Members can now use Companion Vouchers with any ticket in any booking class, regardless of status. Gold and Silver members can book their companion into any cabin for zero miles, and Red members can book their companion into Economy and Premium for zero miles or upper class at a 50% discount.

    Upgrade Vouchers can also be used with any ticket in any booking class, excluding Economy Light, for a one-cabin upgrade on a return flight.

    Clubhouse Vouchers can be used for one entry to any clubhouse when booked on a Virgin flight or with Air France, Delta or KLM when flying internationally. Gold members will continue to receive two vouchers.

    Southwest Rapid Rewards

    On April 16, Southwest announced a status extension for A-List and A-List Preferred members and companion passes. The company is also giving a points “boost” to all Rapid Rewards members.

    “As we continue to navigate our way through this unprecedented time and deal with extraordinary challenges, we are committed to keeping you informed and updated on the steps we are taking to manage through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Southwest said in a message to Rapid Rewards members.

    Status extension

    Companion Pass Members who received an extension of their earned Companion Pass benefits through June 30, 2021, will have their benefits extended for another six months. Members will be able to keep their status through Dec. 31, 2021.

    Other rewards

    Southwest is giving all Rapid Rewards members with an account opened by Dec. 31, 2020, a “boost” of 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 flight credits toward Companion Pass status, as well as 15,000 tier qualifying points and 10 qualifying flight credits toward A-List and A-List Preferred.

    Southwest cardholders can also spend their way all the way to A-List status, with no cap on tier qualifying points (TQPs) earned through card spend. Previously, cardholders could only earn up to 15,000 TQPs per year via card spend.

    Additionally, travel funds created or expiring between March 1, 2020, and Sep. 7, 2020, will now expire on Sep. 7, 2022. Alternatively, Rapid Rewards members can convert those funds into Rapid Rewards points. According to Southwest, the conversion ratio is “the same rate you would be able to purchase a ticket with points today.”

    British Airways

    On June 11, British Airways finally joined other airlines in extending the elite status for its members. Additionally, the carrier is reducing the number of tier points needed to reach a higher membership tier.

    Status extension

    British Airways is extending tier status by 12 months for members who have a tier point collection end date of July 2020, through to June 2021.

    Lower status requirements

    The carrier has also reduced the number of points needed to retain and upgrade a membership status by 25%.

    Here are the new tier qualification thresholds:

    Cardholder benefits

    Members who have earned heir Gold Upgrade Vouchers, Companion Vouchers and Travel Together Tickets with a British Airways credit card will get a 6-month expiration extension to any current vouchers.

    CLEAR

    CLEAR is a program that makes it quicker for travelers to get through airport security lanes by using biometrics for ID verification. Since many people are currently avoiding traveling due to the coronavirus outbreak, a CLEAR membership might not be useful at the moment.

    Originally, CLEAR offered customers to pause their membership for three months. Now CLEAR is allowing members to request a three-month extension to their membership, which can be done by contacting the company directly. With customer service channels such as phone lines overloaded by requests, the fastest way to do so is via CLEAR’s online chat. However, some users have reported experiencing difficulties finding the chat box on the website. Alternatively, you can reach CLEAR by text, email or phone.

    TSA Precheck

    TSA Precheck is a five-year membership that provides expedited security checks at select domestic airports in the U.S. At this time, TSA is planning to keep enrollment centers open while working to determine if any temporary closures are required. Some centers have been closed or changed hours.

    If you’re planning to visit an enrollment center, it’s recommended that you schedule an appointment – as walk-ins may be deferred.

    Visit TSA’s enrollment questions page for more information.

    Global Entry

    Global Entry, a program run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows travelers to get expedited clearance through automatic kiosks when arriving in the U.S, has reopened its enrollment centers on Sept. 8, 2020. After a six-month hiatus, the program will finally allow conditionally approved Global Entry applicants to complete in-person interviews at most Trusted Traveler Programs enrollment centers in the U.S. The interviews must be scheduled in advance online, and their availability will vary by location.

    Since the COVID-19 outbreak has also affected processing times for Global Entry renewals, CPB has increased the renewal grace period to 18 months. This means that if you apply for your Global Entry renewal before its expiration date, you’ll be able to use Global Entry for another 18 months.

    As the coronavirus situation is unprecedented and changing rapidly every day, hotels and airlines continue to make updates to their travel policies, including their loyalty programs. Travelers should continue to check airline and hotel websites as the situation evolves. If they cannot find the information they need online, they should contact their hotel, airline or travel agency’s customer service number.


    Source: creditcards.com

    This Weird Home-Decor Trend Is Showing Up All Over My Feed, And I Like It – Yahoo Lifestyle

    by Phillip Warren
    This Weird Home-Decor Trend Is Showing Up All Over My Feed, And I Like It  Yahoo Lifestyle

    Source: yahoo.com

    Back to School: Home Office Essentials

    by Phillip Warren

    Back to school season is in full swing, and that means your kids will be coming home with more and more homework. They will need a productive space to study, and your home office can be a good option. But the office may need a few essentials before it’s ready for the school year.

    Get Good Lighting

    Studying in the dark can strain your eyes or put you to sleep. To avoid the likelihood of snoozing during study time, you’ll want to have adequate lighting. Add a small desk lamp, a floor lamp, or a brighter bulb in your overhead lighting.

    Create Comfort

    Your kids will ideally spend a lot of time studying in the office. Make it comfortable. Invest in a good chair or a lumbar support cushion.

    Keep Supplies Within Reach

    Your kids may need pens, pencils, paper clips, glue sticks, and all of the things on their long back to school shopping list. Try to fit the necessary supplies in arms reach. Set up pencil holders on the desk surface, or dedicate a drawer to school supplies. If they can simply grab what they need, they’ll be likely to save time and stay on track.

    Be Organized

    People are more productive when they work in an organized space. So instead of throwing supplies and papers anywhere, make sure everything has a place. Invest in folders, binders, and a file cabinet (and make sure the entire family uses them).

    Decorate

    Creative work is done best in a visually pleasing space, so don’t skimp when it comes to interior design. Personalize the space and make it one where your family actually enjoys spending time.

    Get your home office in shape. Your entire family may be more productive as a result.

    The post Back to School: Home Office Essentials first appeared on Century 21®.


    Source: century21.com

    Best credit cards for Lyft

    by Phillip Warren

    Only a decade ago, people called a taxi company when they needed a ride. The same act is now as simple as hitting a few buttons on your smartphone.

    Ride-share companies like Lyft make getting a ride to almost anywhere a breeze, and the service may cost a lot less than you think.

    If you charge your Lyft rides to a credit card that doles out points or miles, that’s even better. In this guide, we’ll go over the absolute best credit cards to use when you ride with Lyft as well as other ways to maximize your ride-share dollars.

    See related: Everything you need to know about maximizing rewards on ride-shares

    Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for Lyft discounts
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for extra value at a lower fee
  • American Express® Green Card: Best for budget-minded travelers
  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Best no annual fee card for ride shares
  • Best credit cards to earn rewards with Lyft

    There are a handful of credit cards that can help you earn rewards each time you ride with Lyft. Here are your best options:

    See related: Best cards for Uber, UberEATS

    Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for Lyft discounts

    In January 2020, the Chase Sapphire Reserve began to offer a one-year complimentary Lyft Pink membership. For a $19.99 monthly fee, Lyft Pink offers passengers 15% off all car rides, in addition to priority airport pickups, special discounts and more flexibility in cancellations, among other benefits. The Reserve is also offering 10 points per dollar on Lyft purchases through March 2022.

    Besides these perks, the card comes with a 3-point-per-dollar rate on restaurants and travel, including Lyft, after the $300 annual travel credit. Speaking of the credit, it applies to most travel purchases, including rides with Lyft.

    The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is one of the best travel credit cards on the market, but it also comes with a rather high price – the card charges an annual fee of $550. If you don’t travel often enough to justify the fee, you might want to look into cards that have a lower annual fee or none at all.

    Here are more details:

    exciting new benefits for its World and World Elite credit card members. This includes a $10 Lyft credit for World Elite cardholders, which will be automatically applied to your next ride after you take five Lyft rides within a calendar month. The most popular World Elite Mastercards include the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card*, the Citi Prestige® Card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.

    Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for extra value at a lower annual fee

    Similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards cardholders for eating out (or ordering takeout) and traveling and offers 5 points per dollar on Lyft through March 2022. The base rewards rate is lower at 2 points per dollar on dining and travel and 1 point per dollar on other purchases, but the annual fee is also lower at $95.

    If you’re not ready to shell out $550 per year that the Reserve charges, the Preferred can be a better alternative. Plus, it offers a higher sign-up bonus than the Reserve – you’ll get 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months (compare with a 50,000-point sign-up bonus if you spend $4,000 in first three months on the Reserve).

    Take a look at the card details:

    American Express® Green Card: Best for budget-minded travelers

    Another credit card that offers rewards for travel and transit (including ride-shares such as Lyft) is the American Express Green Card. While it doesn’t offer the luxury travel perks other Amex cards are known for, it can be a good choice for budget-minded travelers. With this card, you can get 3 points per dollar on dining, travel and transit, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. The Amex Green also comes with perks such as up to $100 in annual statement credits for LoungeBuddy purchases and up to $100 per year for CLEAR membership.

    complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership for up to 12 months if you enroll by Dec. 31, 2021.

    Here’s what the card offers at a glance:

    Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Best no annual fee card for ride shares

    If you’re looking for a credit card that would earn you rewards on Lyft rides and not charge an annual fee, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express is definitely an option worth looking into.

    The card earns 3 points per dollar in numerous categories, including dining out, gas stations, transit, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals and select streaming services – and ride-shares. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar. You can choose to redeem your rewards for flights through Go Far Rewards or statement credits.

    Here’s a closer look:

    More ways to maximize rewards (and save money) when you pay for ride-sharing services

    While using the right credit card can help you score more rewards each time you ride with Lyft, there are other ways to make the most of your ride-share spending. Here are some tips that can help you maximize each dollar you spend, save money and even earn airline miles:

    Bottom line

    To find the best cards for Lyft to share with you, we’ve compared all cards that offer benefits and perks related to ride-sharing and Lyft specifically. These cards can help you maximize your potential earnings and savings on Lyft rides, and if you use Lyft frequently, one of these products can be a great addition to your wallet.

    *All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. Capital One Savor Credit Card is no longer available through CreditCards.com.


    Source: creditcards.com

    Mortgage Deferment and Mortgage Forbearance—Is There a Difference?

    by Phillip Warren
    Mortgage Deferment and Mortgage Forbearance—Is There a Difference? PickStock/Getty Images

    With finances in peril due to COVID-19, many homeowners are in search of mortgage relief. Two strategies that many borrowers are anxious to invoke right now are mortgage deferment and mortgage forbearance.

    Both tactics allow a borrower to skip monthly payments for a set period. Depending on the lender, there can be subtle differences between the two terms.

    “We are seeing the terms being used interchangeably,” says Sara Singhas, the director of loan administration for the Mortgage Bankers Association.

    She adds that both tactics allow a temporary period during which a borrower need not make contractual monthly payments. The differences between the two strategies come at the end of that period.

    “What happens at the end of the forbearance period is the amount of payments that you missed during that forbearance will be due in a lump sum,” says Singhas.

    Sometimes, lenders will work with borrowers to structure a payment plan, instead of demanding a lump sum.

    Deferment—especially special programs that lenders have introduced during the pandemic—often allow customers to repay the money over time or to add it to the end of the loan period.

    Clearing up confusion about mortgage forbearance

    “In the mortgage world, it’s very fluid … [but] what we hear more is the term forbearance,” says Mary Bell Carlson, a certified financial planner professionally known as Chief Financial Mom. “Overall, forbearance is saying, ‘Hey, something has happened, I cannot pay.’”

    A book Carlson has dubbed her Bible of the financial world, “Surviving Debt,” by the National Consumer Law Center, makes no distinction between forbearance and deferment.

    “They do not even use the word deferment in terms of a mortgage, everything is called a forbearance in this book,” she says.

    If a lender does differentiate between the terms deferment and forbearance, the difference will be at the end of the loan period, according to Singhas.

    Some borrowers will be able to add extra payments to the end of the loan or make other arrangements to spread out repayment, while others will not. Sometimes, payment terms involve a new loan or a rewriting the existing loan.

    Mortgage loan originator Krista Allred says one differentiation can center on foreclosure proceedings and timing.

    “Technically, a mortgage forbearance agreement is when you’ve possibly been late, and the lender agrees not to foreclose during that forbearance period,” says Allred. In this scenario, a borrower already has a history of nonpayment before entering into a forbearance agreement.

    But with the pandemic only revealing its enormous scope within the past 30 days, many borrowers haven’t been late—yet.

    However, because of sudden job loss or because of the quarantine, borrowers have besieged the phone lines of their lenders, to get out in front of the financial iceberg.

    Contact your lender for mortgage relief

    No matter what you call it, if borrowers ask for help during this crisis, many lenders are allowing them to miss payments and not charge them late fees or penalties.

    “The definition really doesn’t matter. The moral of the story right now is to call your lender. Don’t just assume you can skip a payment. Call them, let them know, and make arrangements,” Allred advises.

    Carlson struck the same chord and told us that borrowers shouldn’t get caught in the weeds about the semantics of forbearance versus deferment.

    She says, “They just need to pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey look, I’m in a bad situation, I’ve lost my job, and I think it’s going to be rough for the next three months.’ From there the lender can come back and say, ‘Here [are the] options.’”

    Due to the current financial situation, the mortgage world is shifting. Options that weren’t on the table for borrowers a few months ago might be available now.

    Singhas says the length of time that the forbearance could be extended and the options at the end of the term might be different. She adds that borrowers in good standing prior to the current crisis may able to do a modification wherein any monthly payments missed now are simply tacked on to the end of the loan.

    Pressing pause on your mortgage

    Whatever terminology your lender uses, it’s important for you to understand what is really happening with your loan. Nothing is free. You can’t expect to stop paying your mortgage forever.

    “It’s not free mortgage payment, it’s not free money. [Forbearance] is temporarily hitting the pause button on your mortgage, and not having to make the payment,” Carlson warns.

    “It does not necessarily pause the interest that is accruing, and it does mean that you’re going to have to make that principal and interest payment at a later date.”

    Key questions to ask before seeking mortgage forbearance

    When calling your lender, Carlson recommends asking:

    • What relief options are available?
    • Will interest continue being calculated during the length of time I am not paying?
    • Will there be any fees?
    • How will it be reported to the credit bureaus?
    • Do I still need to pay for my escrow to cover taxes, insurance, and mortgage insurance?

     

    Singhas says some lenders have decided to allow certain loan modifications. In some cases, they will allow the monthly payment to be changed later in the life of the loan, to include the amount missed during the forbearance.

    She adds that the main confusion for consumers right now is the fact that most lenders will not necessarily require a lump sum payment after the forbearance period ends.

    “I think some people are panicked that if they get a forbearance, they have to pay it all back immediately,” she notes.

    “That’s one option, or they can enter into a payment plan if they can’t make the lump sum, and if they can’t make a repayment plan work, there are other options available to them.”

    If you work out a forbearance or deferment plan with your lender and don’t just skip payments, it can protect your credit.

    “It doesn’t show a positive or a negative, but it doesn’t show like a missed payment,” Carlson explains.

    “So if you were to ignore it and just not pay anything and pretend it will go away, that’s absolutely going to affect your credit report in the long run. But the forbearance or deferment is a neutral. It’s not positive or negative on the credit report, but it’s a lot better than having missed payments on your mortgage.”

    One caveat to keep in mind is that if you can pay your mortgage, pay it, and don’t ask for relief.

    “It’s always better to make your monthly payment if you can,” Singhas says.

    The post Mortgage Deferment and Mortgage Forbearance—Is There a Difference? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.


    Source: realtor.com

    What Could a Second Wave of COVID-19 Mean for Housing Markets?

    by Phillip Warren

    Will a second wave of COVID-19 mean "boom" or "bust" for the housing market? With the trends we're seeing now, there are a couple of possibilities to expect.

    The post What Could a Second Wave of COVID-19 Mean for Housing Markets? appeared first on Homes.com.


    Source: homes.com