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John Tunningley

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Lesser Known Credit Card Benefits That You Won’t Want to Miss

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: John Tunningly

Hey Travel Junkies,

We all know that using credit cards can help you to be able to travel for free, but there are a lot of other benefits to having a credit card. Most of us know about the major benefits like travel credits and lounge access on some of the premier cards but don’t sleep on the other perks.

From price protection to warranty benefits to extra nights free with hotel stays to roadside assistance, there’s more than just free flights and hotels stays in your future.

Today, we’re going to go over some of those benefits that are sometimes forgotten and some of the cards that offer them.

Price Protection

One benefit that is often not openly advertised is purchase price protection, with the exception to that being Citi who has coined their price protection “price rewind”.

This benefit can be used to make up the difference between a sale price and the price you paid on an item bought with your credit card and is especially useful during the holiday season if you don’t want to deal with the black Friday madness. Unfortunately this seems to be a dying benefit as two of the most generous programs significantly reduced their benefits.

Chase recently removed price protection from all of their cards and Citi recently announced their “price rewind” benefit would have a lower max per claim and a lower total per calendar year.

Many cards offer price protection so we’ve outlined the general guidelines from issuers.

IssuerChaseCitiDiscoverCapital OneBarclaycardMastercardUSAA
Max amount per claim$200*$500*$250$250$250$250
Max benefit/ year$1,000*$2,500$1,000$1,0004 claims per 12 month period4 claims per 12 month period
Amount of time to claim60 days60 days60-120 days60-120 days60-120 days120 days

*These new terms start July 29th, 2018 so you may be able to use Citi’s old policy ($500 per claim and $2,500 per year) until then. Also as of July 29th Citi will exclude the following items:  Consumables, tires, watches, firearms, ammunition, or lower prices offered through a warehouse club where the merchant requires customers to pay a membership fee.

If you plan on using this benefit, check your specific card to make sure it applies. Also, make sure that the item you find advertised for a lower price is the exact same model number as the one you purchased. Continue Reading

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How Work Travel Can Help You Reach Your Personal Travel Dreams

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: John Tunningley

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking after reading the title of this article.

“This isn’t for me. I never travel for work.”

Maybe you’re thinking, “my business provides a credit card and I can’t use my own.”

While one of these statements may be true at the present time, they likely might not always be true for you. Personally, I think if you get the opportunity to travel for work, you should go for it.

Today, I want to tell my own story about how work travel has helped to change my life and how it can help you earn points and miles for your next vacation.

Finding the Right Job

First and foremost you have to find a job that you enjoy doing and that may have some opportunities for travel. One of my go-to interview questions is always how much travel will be involved.

Often, employers will worry you don’t want to travel which is completely understandable in many circumstances. I have been fortunate over the years to have incredibly supportive family and friends.

When considering a new job, always be sure to ask about travel requirements

I have a dog that my parents or girlfriend watch while I travel for work but don’t have any children to worry about which has made my work travel easier on me. I travel almost every other week in my current position and when I asked how much travel would be involved in my interview, I was pretty much told however much I wanted.

I don’t think they expected me to want to travel every week. Continue Reading

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New Credit Cards on the Market in 2018

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: John Tunningley

This year has already been filled with lots of activity in the points and miles world. From the new Chase rules on the Southwest Rapid Rewards personal cards to the SPG/Marriott merger news and, of course, a slew of new cards.

So, let’s get into the cards, the bonuses and figure out which cards are worthwhile.

New Avios Cards

Avios is the airline currency for British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus. All three programs have distance-based award charts—though there are rumors of a switch to revenue-based redemptions in the near future.

Right now, all three Avios earning cards have a 100,000 point sign-up bonus tiered as 50,000 Avios for making $3,000 in purchases within three months of card opening, an additional 25,000 Avios for an additional $7,000 in the first year (for a total of $10,000), and the last 25,000 Avios for making an additional $10,000 in purchases in the first year (for a total of $20,000).

This is very similar to the British Airway bonus that was around last year. With none of these cards being restricted by the Chase 5/24 rule they are very tempting cards to pick up for anyone over 5/24

You can learn more about the British Airways card here.

New Marriott Cards

With the details of the Marriott and SPG loyalty program merger finally being announced, there is a ton to take in but also some new cards coming out. Chase will continue to issue the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card but has also released a new Marriott card, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus.

(Learn more about the Marriott Rewards card here)

The new card has a $95 annual fee but comes with a 100,000-point sign-up bonus after $5,000 in spend in the first 3 months. Like the existing Marriott card, we expect it to be restricted by the Chase 5/24 rule but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Meanwhile, the new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card will come with a $450 annual fee but an extensive list of perks including complimentary Gold Elite Status, a $300 statement credit for purchases at Marriott properties and a Priority Pass Select membership.

While the bonus for this card hasn’t yet been released expect it to be sizeable to try to entice new customers. Continue Reading

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How To Earn The Last Few Points For The Southwest Companion Pass

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: John Tunningley

While it is now a little harder to get the companion pass due to the new rules on Southwest personal cards (Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card). It is still possible to get the companion pass or get close to the companion pass by getting the Southwest Business Card and one of the two Southwest personal cards.

If you’ve managed to sign up for the bonus offers when at least one is at 60,000 Rapid Rewards points and another is at 50,000 points, and you’ve met the minimum spending requirements then congratulations, you’ve officially earned the Southwest Companion Pass and you can start booking flights for you and your companion.

However many of you sign up when the offers are a little lower so you’re likely about 6,000 points short if you signed up during the 50,000 point bonus or up to 26,000 short if you decided to sign up during the 40,000 point bonuses (don’t do this). This is of course assuming you’ve met the minimum spend and earned at least 2,000 points per card while doing this.

So let’s look at a few ways you can earn those last few thousand points to get you to the glory that is the Southwest Companion Pass.

Flying Southwest

You can earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points the old fashioned way by simply flying with Southwest. You get miles for every flight and you can boost these earnings by booking “Anytime” or “Business Select” fares—of course, you’ll pay more. Anytime fares earn 10x the fare and Business Select earns 12x the fare while “Wanna Get Away” fares only earn 6x the fare.

This means that if you book and fly an $500 fare or $500 worth of flights (before taxes and fees) in Business Select you can make up those last 6,000 points. This is doable if you fly often, especially if you’re using one of your Southwest cards to book. Getting the extra 2X points per dollar using a Southwest Credit Card means you would only have to spend $429 on Business Select fares to make up those last 6,000 points.

If you have 26,000 points to make up it would be a little harder as you would need to book over $2,000 worth of tickets to get the points needed for the Companion Pass. While alone this may be a lot it can easily be combined with other methods below to help you get over the 110,000 Rapid Reward threshold.

Putting All Your Spend On A Southwest Card

Another way to earn those last few thousand points is to put all of your spending on one of your Southwest cards. While this may be feasible for those of you trying to get 6,000 points it’s a lot of spend to put on a card if you need to earn 26,000 points—especially when you consider that you could be putting that toward a new sign-up bonus or on a card with bonus categories.

However, if you’re going to be using the Companion Pass extensively, it might be worth shifting your spend to this card for awhile.

Use the Southwest Shopping Portal

Like many other points programs, Southwest Rapid Rewards has its own shopping portal and thee points earned through the shopping portal count towards the Companion Pass. Popular merchants like Harry’s razors (9X points per dollar), Proactiv (11X points per dollar), Stitch Fix (20X points per dollar) and New Balance (5X points per dollar) all offer great ways to earn extra points.

There are also a variety of other stores offering lower rates but that still might be useful like 2X points per dollar on Groupon purchases, 1X point per dollar Home Depot, Microsoft and Apple.

Refer Friends to the Chase Southwest Cards

Chase often includes Southwest cards in the refer-a-friend program. You can earn 10,000 Rapid Rewards points for each friend you refer (and is approved). This is true on both cards so you can get refer a friend to both cards to help both you and a friend get the companion pass.

Keep Your Eyes Open for Special Deals

During holidays, Southwest often has special bonuses through the shopping portal. Earlier this year I sent my girlfriend flowers for Valentine’s Day from 1-800-Flowers and received 1,750 Rapid Reward points.

Not only did I score some major Southwest Rapid Reward points towards the Companion Pass, but I scored some points with my girlfriend. It’s something that I likely would have done anyway but the extra money I spent to have the flowers sent rather than buying them myself was more than worth earning the extra Rapid Rewards points toward the Companion Pass.

Book Hotels Through Southwest

When booking hotels through the Southwest Hotels website you can earn up to 10,000 points per night. While this is proudly displayed on the front page and, in many popular locations, there are a few hotels that offer 3,000-5,000 Rapid Rewards points per night, however most simply offer 1 point per dollar. If you find yourself traveling, it’s at least worth taking a look at what Southwest Hotels has to offer and if Southwest Hotels fails you you can also try Rocketmiles which could earn you some Rapid Rewards points as well.

In addition to the Southwest Hotels portal and Rocketmiles, Southwest has partnerships with many other hotels including Best Western, Radisson, Choice Hotels, Hyatt, LaQuinta, Marriott, MGM and SPG. These partnerships allow you to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points instead of hotel points however obtaining points this way isn’t advised as none of the points transfer 1:1 except SPG which are almost always worth more as SPG points than they are as Southwest points.

Pay Your Power Bill

If you happen to be lucky enough to be in an area served by NRG, Everything Energy, or Reliant you can earn anywhere between 5,00 and 15,000 points just for switching over your power supplier and additional points for every month or dollar you stay with the company. While this clearly isn’t for everyone and is pretty limited in its coverage area it may be worth looking into if you’ve been thinking about switching your power company.

Book Rental Cars Through Southwest

When you book car rentals through the Southwest website you can earn up to 2,400 points plus get additional discounts. Southwest partners with most major car rental agencies including National, Alamo, Payless, Avis, Hertz, Budget, Thrifty and Dollar with many of them giving at least a 10% discount and points based on the length or cost of the rental.

This can be a great way to earn those final points without having to go out of your way and also allow you to get a discount while you’re at it.

Final Thoughts

While getting the initial sign-up bonuses can be exciting and get you incredibly close to meeting the 110,000 Rapid Rewards points required for the Southwest Companion Pass, getting those last few points can be a frustrating process if you don’t know some tricks to boost your earning.

Using a variety of the methods outlined above you can get to 110,000 Rapid Rewards points and start enjoying the perks of the Southwest Companion pass on every trip!

Keep Traveling,

John

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Tipping Around The World: Part 2

By: John Tunningley

In the second half of our tipping around the world series, we will cover some of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and the Middle East. All currencies are provided in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted. Keep in mind, Euros are primarily used throughout much of Europe.

Make sure you check out Part 1 to learn about tipping culture in The Americas, Asia and Africa.

EUROPE

Much like Asia, the tipping customs in Europe vary widely from Iceland—all gratuities are included—to many countries in which 10-15% is expected at restaurants. Though Eastern European countries didn’t have the same tipping culture, historically, the American tipping culture has started to spread through these countries as global tourism has increased. Throughout Europe, it’s best to tip in the local currency and, when dining, it’s best to leave tips in cash otherwise the waiter may not get the tip.

Croatia

While dining out in Croatia, the tip you leave depends on where you’re eating. You can round up the bill when having a coffee or a drink but you’ll want to leave leave a 3-5% tip at a tavern. If you dine at a nicer restaurant, you’ll want to leave a 10-15% tip.

At hotels, feel free to tip around $10 to the concierge. Tip a little more if it’s a nicer hotel and you are making multiple requests of the concierge team. Cleaning staff should be left $1-2 per day in an envelope at the end of your stay while porters should get the typical $1 per bag.

Guides and drivers should be tipped 10-20% per day, while you can let taxi drivers keep the change. Also, if you happen to be taking a chartered sailing excursion, leave $50-60 per person at the end of the trip. If it’s a larger boat/yacht, leave 10-20% of the overall cost.

Czech Republic

When dining in the Czech Republic, a service charge is typically included, but for great service feel free to tip an additional amount to make the total tip, including the service charge, up to 15% of the bill.

For hotels, tip the concierge about $20 if you will be using them, tip bellhops $1-2 per bag, and cleaning staff about $4 a day. You can round up the the fare on taxis rides but for guides and drivers tip $5-10 and $10-15, respectively.

Estonia

At restaurants, rounding up the bill at most places is acceptable, while at a nice restaurant tipping 5-8% in cash is appreciated. At hotels, give porters one Euro per bag and the concierge five Euros if you will be utilizing them.

When getting around, give guides 30-35 Euros per day while drivers should get about 20 Euros per day.

France

Don’t expect to tip at a bar, but you can leave up to 10% on a dinner bill. At hotels, two Euros should be given to the porter per bag and the housekeeper per day. Tipping 10-15 Euros to the concierge for making reservations is also acceptable.

Certified guides should be given up to 50 Euros per day, while drivers should get about 10-15 Euros per day. 10-20 Euros for airport transfers and 10-15% tip should be added to taxi rides.

Germany

At restaurants, 5-10% should be added to bills. While staying at a hotel, about 2 Euros per bag for the porter is acceptable. Housekeeper should be left about 5 Euros per night. Also, feel free to tip the concierge about 20 Euros if you are using them.

Greece

While staying in Greece, porters should be given roughly 1 Euro per bag and housekeepers should receive the same. While dining, many people leave 5-10% with the higher percentages for more inexpensive bills.

For local transportation, plan to tip about 20 Euros per day or a little more for private drivers and 4-6 Euros per person for guides on group tours. 40-60 Euros is normal for a full-day private tour. For boat charters, tip the captain 5-15% to be distributed among the crew.

Hungary

For great service at restaurants leave about 10% of the total bill in cash. You can simply round up the bill for standard service. At hotels, tip the concierge about $20 if you utilize them while porters should be given around $2 and housekeepers around $3.

Tip guides $10-20 per person per day. You should tip drivers $5-10 but simply round up the fare for taxi rides. If you take the train, expect to run into porters who should also be tipped about $1-2 per bag.

At spas, you can tip up to 10% extra on top of the included service charge

Iceland

Throughout Iceland tips are either included or not necessary. That said, for exceptional service, you can tip up to an additional 10% at restaurants. Tipping fantastic guides or drivers $10 and $20 a day is acceptable.

Italy

Dining in Italy is truly an experience. When dining out, a 10% tip is appreciated.. At hotels, porters are tipped up to 5 Euros, while housekeepers should be left about 2 Euros per night.

In Italy, sometimes it’s necessary to insist they accept the tip if they refuse at first. Contrary to what some may believe, tipping gondoliers in Venice isn’t necessary.

Netherlands

Restaurants typically include a service charge in the price of the meal and it’s actually required by law in the city of Amsterdam. You can leave an additional 5-10% at a restaurant but, if just getting a drink or two, leaving the change is acceptable.

At hotels, 1-2 Euros should be given to the porters and housekeepers should be given about 2 Euros per night. For taxis, simply rounding up the fare is acceptable, as a tip is typically included in the rate.

Portugal

About 5% should be left if you’re getting a drink or coffee, while 10% should be left at restaurants. Hotel cleaning staff should be left about 3-4 Euros a day and porters about 1 Euro per bag.

For drivers, tip about 15 Euros per day and double that for guides. For taxi drivers, no tip is needed but you can always round up the fare.

Russia

In Russia, tips should always be given directly to the individual who helps you. At restaurants, plan on tipping the waiter 10% in rubles.

At hotels, porters should be left $3-5 per trip, while housekeepers should be left $2-3 per night, and the concierge can be given $10-20 if they go out of their way for you.

For taxis, negotiate the fare before getting in the car and plan on tipping about 10% while giving drivers about $30 per day and private guides about $50 per day.

Also, in Russia, feel free to accompany any tips with a thank you note.

Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Sweden)

Tipping in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden is usually included in the bill or isn’t expected, however, bills can be a little higher in Scandinavia. As in many countries where the service charge is included, bills can be rounded up and for excellent service a small 5-10% tip can be left. The smaller 5-10% tip is appreciated at restaurants and for taxi drivers, especially in the more touristy areas like Copenhagen or Stockholm.

Slovakia

In Slovakia, travelers should expect to tip about 10% at restaurants. For hotels, tip the concierge around $15-20 if you will be using them, tip bellhops $1-2 per bag, and cleaning staff about $4 a day.

For taxis, you can round up the fare while guides and drivers should receive $5-10 and $10-15, respectively.

Spain

While dining in Spain, you can tip up to 13% in cash but it isn’t necessary especially if the service isn’t great. At hotels, the concierge can be tipped 5-10 Euros if you’re using them, while cleaning staff should be left about 5 Euros per day, and porters about 1 Euro per bag.

For drivers, tip about 15 Euros per day and guides roughly double that. For taxi drivers, round up the fare.

Switzerland

In Switzerland, it’s important to only tip in Swiss francs but most tips are included. At restaurants you can tip between 5-10% although it’s not expected, and while at hotels tips are only necessary if someone goes out of their way for you.

Great guides should be left about $40 per person, while drivers should get about half that. For taxis, simply round up the fare.

Turkey

In Turkey, leave a 10% tip at restaurants but have cash ready as tips typically can’t be put on your credit card. There’s typically a service charge included in hotel bills which will cover almost everything except the concierge who should be tipped $15-25.

When getting around, taxi fares can be rounded up, while private drivers should be given about $35-50 per day. Private tour guides should be given about $75 and other tour guides should be given about $10-$15 per day.

Also, masseuses should get $20-25 and boat charters should be tipped about 5% of the price. If you rent a boat cabin, $15 per person per day is acceptable, but all tips in Turkey are discretionary and should only be given for good service.

United Kingdom

When dining in the U.K., a service charge is often included but, if not, tip 10-15%. However, if just going out for drinks, tipping isn’t necessary. Porters should be given 1-2 pounds per bag and housekeepers should be given the same per night.

Simply round up the fare for a taxi driver. Guides and drivers should be tipped about 20 pounds or 10 pounds, respectively. It’s important to always check bills because many tips are included in the bills throughout the U.K..

THE MIDDLE EAST

The Middle East is often a very hospitable region with many people in the service industry going above and beyond to make sure you have the best service possible. With this level of service, you will find that tipping is expected. With the additional service touches, it is perfectly fine to tip more often but in smaller amounts.

Egypt

In Egypt, tipping is encouraged but you can tip in your native currency as well as the local currency. At restaurants, a 5-10% additional tip should be added to the bill even if it says the tip is already included (it often is).

Similar to many locations around the world, a good tip to the hotel concierge—$10-20—will go a long way. In addition, the porter should be tipped about $1 per bag and the housekeeper will definitely appreciate $1-2 per day which will also help keep your room in tip top shape especially for an extended stay.

Taxi drivers should be tipped 10-15%, while guides can be tipped around $20 per person per day. While this may seem like a lot, guides will also help to you avoid some of the tourist trap schemes and ultimately save you money.

Iran

While Europeans can travel independently in Iran, Americans must be with a government approved tour where tipping is encouraged. Unlike the United States, sometimes a small gift from the United States is appreciated at hotels.

When tipping guides, leave a tip for each person in a separate envelope with a short note of appreciation. U.S. dollars are accepted for tips.

Israel

As in Europe, the tip is included in restaurant bills but adding a shekel per customer will be appreciated. At hotels, 2-3 shekels for the concierge will be sufficient while six shekels per bag for porters and six shekels per day for housekeepers is sufficient.

Like many other places, taxi drivers should be tipped 10-15% and tour guides should be tipped 90-120 shekels (walking) and 120-150 shekels (driver). While this may seem like a lot, it’s important to remember each shekel is only worth about a quarter. Tips should be given in the local shekels.

Jordan

Similar to Egypt, there will often be a tip included in restaurant bills, but adding an additional 5-10% for the waiter is a wise decision. At hotels, one dinar per bag for the porter is acceptable as is 1-2 dinar per night for the housekeeper. If you plan on utilizing the concierge to get tickets to an exclusive event, tipping in advance is a good idea.

For cabs, a 10-15% tip is sufficient like in many other countries, while tour guides should be tipped $30 per person per day and private drivers should be tipped about $30 per day.

Dollars and Euros are acceptable for tips. If you are visiting the ancient city of Petra, it is okay to decline tipping the native Nabateans especially after you’ve already paid even if they are asking for additional tips. Also, if on a guided tour double check to see if the tip has been prepaid. If so, it’s perfectly fine to refuse to tip any additional amount.

Oman

No tipping is necessary in Oman as it is considered culturally offensive.

Qatar and U.A.E.

Most tipping in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates mirrors tipping in the US. At restaurants, a 15-20% tip is standard and $2-5 for hotel a doorman (when calling a taxi for you), porters and housekeepers.

Where these countries differ is for guides and drivers. In Qatar, guides and drivers should be tipped $10 per person per day and $5 per person per day is sufficient for guides. In U.A.E., guides should be tipped $10-20 per person per day and drivers should be tipped $5 per person per day. US dollars are accepted for tipping.

Dubai

Dubai is a little different than the rest of the U.A.E. In Dubai, a 10% service charge is added to all bills at any bar, restaurant or hotel. While this covers the traditional tip, you can always round up most tips to the next 5 Dirham note and at restaurants add a small tip to bring the total tip to 15%.

While taxi drivers fall into the same “round up to the nearest 5 Dirham note” rule, valets and porters do not receive the 10% service charge so tipping around 10 dirhams is customary.

Saudi Arabia

At restaurants, tip 10-15% of the bill and don’t expect to take home leftovers as anything left by customers is given to the homeless or taken home by staff. At hotels, $20-25 can go a long way with the concierge while porters should be given $1-2 per bag and housekeepers should be given $2 per day.

Give guides $7-10 per person per day and drivers about $5 per person per day. If a driver has an assistant keeping the car clean and providing water, it is acceptable to give them $2 per person per day.

Tipping here should be done discreetly, putting tips in envelopes or palming them off in a handshake are perfectly acceptable ways to tip and U.S. dollars can be used. If visiting a mosque, leaving $1 for the person providing robes for women and the person minding your shoes is customary.

Yemen

No tipping is necessary in Yemen as it is considered culturally offensive.

Final Thoughts

With that, we have come to end of our guide to tipping around the world. This (almost) comprehensive list of countries and regions should make your next adventure just a bit easier and less stressful.

Keep Traveling,

John

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Tipping Around The World: Part 1

By: John Tunningley

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

While most of our posts focus on trips around the world and the best credit card deals currently available to you, it’s also important to be cognizant of the cultural differences that exist while traveling.

When traveling, we are all ambassadors and it’s important to make sure that we create positive impressions so that those who come after us can have great experiences too.

With this in mind, we thought it was important to discuss how to tip around the world. In this post, we’ll look at the Americas, Asia, and Africa. We’ll discuss Europe and the Middle East in part 2 next week.

We will break down region and, in most cases, country. Also, most of the tips are in US dollars unless the local currency is specifically stated. I’ll also try to point out where dollars are preferred or a better method for tipping.

THE AMERICAS

Across many countries in Latin America meals can be tipped 8-12% rather than the 15-20% expected in the US and Canada. Tips in Latin America can often be included in the bill for restaurants and while tips are not necessarily expected they are always appreciated.

Argentina

At restaurants, a 10% tip will suffice and 10% is also acceptable for remisses or even a full day driver. While at hotels, 25-40 Pesos for a porter is considered appropriate. For cab drivers, your fare can simply be rounded up and for a full day guide, 150-300 Pesos is standard. If someone goes out of their way to help you, any of these tips can be increased a bit. It’s also important to bring change as some places will refuse to break bills for you.

Brazil

At restaurants, a tip is usually included so no tip is required. For cab drivers, you can round up while giving private drivers and tour guides $20-$50 a day. At hotels, $1-$2 per bag for the porter and $2 per day for the housekeeper are suitable. However, the concierge does not need to be tipped. US dollars are accepted for tipping due to the strong exchange rate with the Brazilian Real and tips should be given discreetly.

Canada

Tips in Canada should mirror the US with waiters being tipped between 15-20% and many other people in the service industry being left tips as well. When at hotels, bellboys should be left $1-$2, cleaning staff should be left a few dollars per day, and the concierge should be given at least $20 if they go out of their way to get you reservations or tickets. For taxis, leave 10-15% and the same should be left for drivers or guides.

Continue Reading

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What I’ve Been Up To: John Tunningley

By: John Tunningley – Staff Writer, 10xTravel.com

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

Every couple of weeks we have a 10xT Team Member share a few words on “what they’ve been up to” (points & miles wise) to help our readers get the inside scoop on how we do what we do. Today, Staff Writer John Tunningley has the honors of sharing his recent activity. Take it away John!

What John Has Been Up To –

It’s been a while since we had a 10xTravel team member share his/her latest adventures in earning and burning points and miles. While some of our team has taking a break from applying for new cards—yes, even we take breaks from time to time, I just recently finished applying for a few new cards.

In addition to this, I’ve booked a few minor domestic trips and have been looking at some future trips while watching with a bit of jealousy as our Editor in Chief Spencer Howard spends all his time flying first class around the world.

Now, on the the important stuff.

What Points John Has Been Earning

While some of you may not know this, it wasn’t until the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card launched that I truly dove into the hobby. Before that, I would go months or even a year between card applications.

I’d sign up for a credit card, earn the bonus, spend the points or miles on a trip then wait until my next planned trip to apply for another card. This worked for a few years but in 2016, I decided to step up my game.

I stuck with increased sign-up bonuses on Chase cards combined with business cards for the first year and a half which managed to keep me under the Chase 5/24 rule until now.

I finally pulled the trigger on the Chase Southwest Premier Card and the Chase Southwest Plus Card to help me earn the Southwest Companion Pass for the next two years. I was instantly approved for both—each had a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Rapid Rewards points at the time. After meeting the minimum spending requirements for each, I will only need 6,000 Rapid Rewards points to earn the companion pass.

I already took care of 1,750 of these points by buying flowers through the Southwest shopping portal using one of their Valentine’s Day promotions. As an added bonus I scored even more points by using Chase Pay with my Chase Freedom as spending via virtual wallet is one of the card’s 5x category bonus categories this quarter..

Now that I was finally over 5/24, I decided to take apply for the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard with a bonus of 60,000 American miles and the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard with a bonus of 60,000 American miles.

I then applied for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. While this app went pending, I received an email notification of approval about a week later. This card came with a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points which is worth $400 in travel. I will use this travel credit on an upcoming trip to Disney for the Dark Side Half Marathon where it is traditionally very difficult to get tickets using points.

I also applied for the Capital One Venture card and the Bank of America Alaska Airlines card. I will be calling both banks to see if they will reconsider my applications. Capital One is not known for being receptive to reconsideration calls, but I’ll still give it a shot.

How I’m Burning Some Points and Miles

I will be traveling to Iceland in May but with some low cost options available, I chose to purchase a cash ticket on Icelandair. I also booked an award stay at the Hyatt Place Orlando Airport for 5,000 Hyatt points before it was bumped up from a Category 1 property to a Category 2 which requires 8,000 points per night.

Other than that, I am using Hyatt hotels across the country and my soon to be earned Southwest Companion Pass for various wedding weekends this summer and fall. I’m starting to working on a big trip this fall but and a trip to the Final Four—if one of my teams makes it that far!

Final Thoughts

So in summary, here is what I have been up to:

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card: Approved

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Approved

Barclays Aviator AAdvantage Card: Approved

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Card: Approved

Capital One Venture Card: Pending 

Barclays Arrival Plus Card: Approved

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Card: Approved

I was able to maximize my points earning and get to where I am by developing a sound strategy from the beginning. Now I have a ton of points ready to be used for a huge redemption this fall. To top it off, I’ll have the Southwest Companion Pass through 2019.

Keep Traveling,

John

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3 Types of Points: Which One Should You Prioritize?

By: John Tunningley

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

One of the most important things to learn when you get started in the points and miles game is that there are three types of points: transferable, fixed-value, and hotel points/airline miles.

Now, as many of you know, we publish a list of the best card offers every month. We split this list in two: one for those under 5/24 and the other for those over 5/24. Something you might notice is that the cards that earn transferable points such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are almost always towards the top of our list. The value in these cards really comes from the transferability of the points, and often the ability to earn valuable points quickly.

There are also cards with fixed-value points such as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus that make our list or are listed as honorable mentions. However, they aren’t usually ranked as highly as those with transferable points. It’s important to note there are two types of fixed-value points.

Separately, there are also cards that earn airline miles and hotel points with specific programs such as Delta SkyMiles or Marriott Rewards. Airline miles and hotels points, like fixed-value points, play an important role in travel but aren’t as valuable as transferable points.

We’ll give each a look so it’s clear what each has to offer.

Transferable Points

There are four major transferable points currencies:

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou Points
  • Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)

You might be wondering why we included a hotel loyalty program. Well, SPG Starpoints can be used to book hotel award stays but they can also be transferred to over 30 airlines partners.

For those of you collecting miles and points for future trips to unknown destinations, transferable points are incredibly valuable because of the flexibility they offer. For example, if you want to go to Hawaii, you could book an award ticket on Delta from Los Angeles using the  Korean Air SkyPass program—a partner of both Chase Ultimate Rewards and SPG.

Since your points aren’t attached to a particular airline, you might change your mind and decide to go somewhere else before transferring your points—once you transfer, there is no reversing it. Let’s say you decide you want to visit Tokyo instead. You could transfer to Virgin Atlantic to book an awesome first class award ticket on All Nippon Airways (ANA).

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5 Things To Remember When Using Credit Cards During The Holidays

By: John Tunningley

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

For many, the holiday season is a time that includes a lot of spending. Well, if you’re going to be making lots of purchases anyway, you might as well get the most out of each one! This could mean signing up for a new card to earn a sign-up bonus or using a card that provides some protection for your purchases.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons to open a new credit card this holiday season.

Price Protection

In addition to receiving bonus points from meeting minimum spend requirements, some credit cards also offer price protection benefits which can be incredibly useful in this season of sales.

Major cards from Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Discover, and even USAA offer price protection of some sort. With claim maximums up to $500 and yearly maximums up to $2,500, these cards can easily cover their annual fees with a single claim.

It’s important to check the benefits and exact terms of a specific credit card but many of the cards on our list of best cards for December include price protection including the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Business Preferred Card, and Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard.

Some of our members even had the opportunity to buy some pre-Black Friday deals that were advertised at a lower price on Black Friday and successfully submitted claims for the difference in price.

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How Much Does a Credit Card Denial Hurt Your Credit?

By: John Tunningley

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

Readers often ask, “what happens if I’m denied after submitting a credit card application?”

Everyone is worried about what effect a denial will have on their credit report. The short answer is it has very little effect, but I know the devil is in the details and you want to know exactly what happens when you’re denied.

Your Credit Score

First, let’s looking into the details of what factors influence your credit and help to determine your credit score.

The first, and biggest, credit factor is your payment history. This factor is determined by things such as late or missed payments, bankruptcy, tax liens, collections, etc. These can have a very negative impact on your credit score. Unfortunately, too many people in the US rack up credit debt with no way to pay it back.

This can not only kill your credit score but also makes the points and miles hobby almost useless as the interest you will be paying on credit cards will outweigh the benefits you’re receiving from any given credit card. It is important to make sure you are always paying off your credit card balances in full each month to get the most bang for your buck in this hobby.

The second major factor of your credit score is how much you owe which is referred to as your credit utilization. This often holds people back at first before they understand how it works. Generally, banks report how much of your credit line you have used to all three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—when your statement closes.

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