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       *** TRAVEL NEWS ***
               

If you are in the United States you should be aware of certain Travel Advisories which are given to citizens who choose to travel abroad. These advisories can affect you and may even change your travel plans. So before you go to the airport you should always check to see if your destination country is on the List of the United States Government Travel Advisories.

For more information: Check out the link below which will send you to the US Governments official website for the
latest information which includes the COVID-19 Virus travel restrictions.


https://travel.state.gov


HOW TO PAY LESS FOR FLIGHTS


1. Buy your tickets online
Buying your tickets online will actually help you save more money than buying at the airport or at an agent. Services like Google Flights or others which can be found by a simple online search.

2. Join Frequent flyers
Frequent flyer programs have a lot of benefits and some can offer discounts on future tickets after building up miles, and others may even offer free flights!

3. Not All Sales are Lowest prices
Sometimes a flight ticket may be on sale, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is a bargain for you. Always keep this in mind because that sale could end up costing you more than other deals!

4. Check For Hidden Fees
Always check other fees for tickets that may not be listed at first sight of the price. Make sure to be aware of the price of the ticket at all times and this can be avoided. Many hidden fees are luggage or even meals.

5. Compare Ticket Prices
If you are shopping online, there are various sites you can use to compare prices for different venders of tickets.

6. Choose The Right airline
Make sure when traveling on a budget to go with the airline that is the most comfortable to your budget. Even though it may not be as popular as others, they all get you to your destination!

7. Select an  Off-Hours flight
When shopping for tickets, try to buy tickets that have flights early in the morning or late at night if you can. Sometimes these tickets can save you a bundle!

8. Buy tickets months In Advance
Try to plan your trips, if possible, months in advance to save a lot more in the long run. Sometimes, depending on where you travel, this little tip can end up saving you hundreds on your tickets.

9. Find Vacation Packages
When planning your vacations, try to purchase trip packages as they can end up saving you a ton of money in the long run. If you have the time, compare a package with the costs of buying everything separate.

10. Different Types Of Flights Help You Save
Sometimes it would be wiser if possible to purchase a flight that maybe has one stop before it reaches its final destination, instead of doing a non-stop flight. This can end up helping you save and you can even enjoy the different merchandise at the airport you stop at before your flight continues.





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     AMERICA'S BEST SKI DESTINATIONS


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          WHAT TO KNOW
  BEFORE YOU BUY A HOUSE



Most buyers conduct a lot of research online before ever stepping foot in a home. Buyers spend an average of 6 to 8 weeks, according to the National Association of REALTORS, trying to figure out where they want to live. But once the neighborhood is selected, most buyers end up buying a home after 2 or 3 home tours.

Figure out what you can afford before you look. Get pre-approved for a home loan before your home search so that you don’t waste time on those that you can’t afford. Scour your credit history and resolve any black marks before applying for a home loan.

Homes typically should cost about two and a half times your salary as a rule of thumb, although you also must consider your monthly expenses and what you want to save. Because you will be responsible for unforeseen repairs and property taxes, a healthy amount of savings can come in handy.

Beware of mortgage brokers who are a little too fast and loose with approving you. If you qualify, you may be able to make a down payment as low as 3 percent interest. Paying down “points” is good for those living in a home for three to five years, as it takes a dent out of the interest rate as you pay a portion of the interest at closing.


              
READ MORE





                 AIRPORT TIPS

To make your way to a flight on time and to get through security as quickly as possible you can try the following tips:

1) Sign up. The TSA's PreCheck, a trusted traveler program, has spread to more cities across the U.S. and is now available at some 40 airports. Members of the program are pre-screened and can then whiz through security, sometimes without having to take off their shoes or remove laptops from cases. The U.S. Customs Department's Global Entry program is another shortcut for frequent international travelers, especially as the federal government contracts and customs lines potentially get longer.

Critical Security Checkpoints:
To make clearing security as easy as possible...
-Review the guidelines for liquids and gels on your Flight carriers Carry-On Baggage page before your flight.
-Have your government-issued photo identification and boarding pass ready for inspection.
-Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, since all footwear must be x-rayed.
-Remember to place all coats and jackets in a bin for x-ray screening.
-Make your laptop easily accessible for inspection.
-Avoid wearing anything metal or place these items in your carry-on baggage for screening

2) Check flight status. Although this is obvious, many people often fail to do this one simple but critical thing.

I recommend doing the same before abandoning your ride or your car just before you head to the terminal; flight status updates change by the minute, so a last-second check is always a good idea.

Most airlines will text you flight status updates if you sign up on their Web sites, and sites like Flightaware.com do the same by text, on the Web and through smartphone apps.

4) Check in online. Especially if you are not checking bags, this can save you a heap of time. I have found that when checking bags, having the pre-printed boarding pass in your hand doesn't help all that much, and check-in agents often reissue another boarding pass when you check in your bags -- but it sure doesn't hurt.

5) Before you leave for the airport, put your ID, credit card and boarding pass (if applicable) in an easily accessible part of your wallet or bag. There are two reasons for this: one, by going through this exercise, you make sure that you don't leave home without these crucial items. Two, you don't waste your (and other people's) time fumbling around for them at the moment you need them.

Check the airport parking situation online. Knowing ahead of time where to park, which lots are open and how far they are from the terminal can save you a lot of anxiety on your drive in, as well as keep you safer as you navigate tortuous and almost always poorly marked airport ring roads. Additionally, during peak travel periods, lots fill up quickly, so you will want an alternate parking plan.

When you are ready to board always take inventory of what you will need to do when you get to the front of the security line. Do a quick mental review of everything you are wearing that you will need to remove (such as shoes, jewelry, watch, jacket), and what you have inside your carry-on bag that might need to be taken out (liquids, electronics). When you get to the front of the line, blast through your mental inventory and make it happen. Done well, you can go from fully clad for winter weather, with laptops and iPads in your bag, to a T-shirt, pants and socks, and all your sensitive electronics in their own bins, in seconds.

Using these tips will get you through the airport, on your flight and towards your destination as quickly as possible.

more traveler informaiton tips available at the TSA website:  https://www.tsa.gov/precheck/faq
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HOW TO PAY USING YOUR iPHONE OR ANDROID PHONE


With the ever increasing different ways in which you can make payments you can become confused as to what to use. Since most people carry their cell-phones smartphones everywhere (even more than their wallets!) they should be able to use them as a financial tool as well. And so that is why Levelup has become so popular.

LevelUp is an iPhone and Android app that lets you make purchases using your credit card via QR codes that the app displays. Participating merchants simply scan the QR code on your screen, which initiates a credit card transaction, and you're on your way.

LevelUp does not require any special hardware. All you need is an Android smartphone or iPhone/iPod touch. Google Wallet uses a near-field communication (NFC) chip to communicate with PayPass readers, installed at credit card swipe machines at checkouts, but the chip is only on a select few  Android phones.

After you make a purchase, you can see that it went through in your Transaction History, which shows the transaction amount and date, tip and discount applied if applicable, and total charged to your credit card.

Currently, LevelUp is not intended as a replacement for a traditional merchant account. Instead, the service is more of a marketing supplement that also serves as an electronic payment acceptance method. Merchants that wish to join LevelUp’s program simply download an app for their iPhone or Android device and complete a short setup process.

Don’t have an iPhone or Android? Email support@thelevelup.com and we'll send you a LevelUp Card. Paying with LevelUp is just like swiping your card...but faster and more secure. When you try a new place, you'll instantly get a few bucks to spend there. You'll unlock more savings as you go back to your favorite places.

LevelUp is definitely a new way to pay, but it isn't actually a new payment method. It's just linked to your credit or debit card. So at the most basic level, you get all the security of your card PLUS all the security of LevelUp.

They do not store your credit/debit card information on LevelUp's servers. LevelUp has partnered with Braintree, a globally respected payment gateway, to leverage their secure vault solutions for all credit/debit card storage. All data sent to LevelUp's servers is encrypted and our servers are protected by industry standard measures. By leveraging Braintree for storage, we are able to add another powerful layer of security to LevelUp.

With LevelUp, your phone (the payment instrument) never leaves your hand. This is not the case with other payment instruments, such as a credit or debit card, where at a restaurant the waiter/waitress will normally remove your payment instrument from the table, disappear for 5-10 minutes and then return. With LevelUp, the waiter/waitress will bring the LevelUp terminal to your table and complete the transaction in front of you. This process-level security improvement eliminates the window of opportunity responsible for the plurality of identity thefts in the United States.

LevelUp offers a zero cost setup and a month-to-month service agreement with no cancellation fee (likely subject to the return of equipment upon cancellation). Additionally, the company charges no transaction fees (aka: swipe fees) for funds exchanged through its system.  This means that when a merchant accepts a LevelUp payment of $10 from a customer using a LevelUp app, the merchant will get the full $10 without any fees deducted. 

The only fees that LevelUp charges are related to its loyalty and rewards program of which the company charges 40 cents for every dollar of credit used by customers via a promotional campaign. Essentially, this is done in two ways: First, if a merchant wishes to attract new customers by giving them $2 off a $10 purchase using LevelUp, LevelUp will collect a fee against the $2 credit - or $0.80. Second, if a merchant wishes to encourage customer loyalty by giving them a $10 when they spend $100 through the LevelUp app, LevelUp will collect a $4 fee against the $10 credit.  The company states that merchant only pay fees when LevelUp brings tangible value to the merchant of which can be seen using it’s reports and analytics system.


In conclusion, the Levelup payment system is an alternative to keeping your wallet with you. more on levelup





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