Bet You Didn’t Know You Can Pay For The London Underground With This

London is one of our favorite (or favourite) cities in the world to visit. It’s charming yet bustling. Grand and imperial, but still warm and comforting. We’ve visited London more than any other city outside of the U.S, and look for any reason we can find to go back.

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The two of us in London, 2009

Our trips to London usually consist of us traveling around on the London Underground system. In 2013, we finally admitted to ourselves that we would be visiting London over and over again so we went and purchased Oyster cards. Here’s a description of the Oyster card from Wikipedia.

The Oyster card is a form of electronic ticket used on public transport in Greater London in the United Kingdom. It is promoted by Transport for London and is valid on travel modes across London including London Underground, London Buses, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, Tramlink, some river boat services, and most National Rail services within the London fare zones.

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Oyster card

We were so proud with our new found status as well seasoned travelers and felt a bit smug that we no longer had to go and purchase a ticket before each one of our rides on the Underground. We just had to keep our cards “topped up” and we could just tap the card to go in and out of the turnstiles each time. However, this pride in being up-to-date was to be short-lived. I found out from one of our friends and readers, Katie (an American living in the U.K.), who had read our post about the need of having a Chip+PIN card when traveling, that Chip + PIN was being replaced in the United Kingdom in favour of contactless cards. It turns out that over 63% of cards issued in the UK in 2016 featured the contactless technology and it’s becoming more common for people traveling on the Underground or on London buses to simply tap their contactless card for payment instead of using an Oyster card. To encourage this behaviour, you receive the same discounted rate for contactless payments that you do when using an Oyster Card. There’s even talk of eventually phasing out the Oyster system altogether in favour of contactless payments.

Well then, what is a contactless card?  The term “contactless” is a bit misleading as the cards are more accurately a “tap-and-go” system where you place your card against a reader to complete a transaction. The amount of money you can spend for this type of purchase varies but it’s usually for smaller transactions (less than $25 USD). In the U.S. we’re more familiar with this type of payment using a smartphone or smartwatch with Apple Pay or Android Pay. Imagine doing the same by just putting your card against the reader. Seems like magic to most people in the U.S. but many countries are already quickly moving toward these payments, again leaving us behind.

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Logo indicating that you have a contactless card.

So if you’re here in the U.S., how can you get one of these contactless cards? It turns out that some banks have been sending them to people but not telling them about the feature. When Citi took over the Costco credit card, they issued all of the new Visa cards with contactless technology. However, I looked all over their webpage and there’s not even a mention of this being a feature of the card. Unfortunately, the Costco Visa card charges a 3% international transaction fee, so I wouldn’t suggest using this card to pay for rides on the London Underground.

American Express also offers contactless chip cards. In fact, my SPG AMEX is a contactless card and I never even asked for it. Since this card doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees, it will now be my preferred way to pay for rides on the Underground. It  seems that if you now want a card with this technology from AMEX, you do need to ask for it. From the AMEX website:

Contactless chip is currently available on the majority of Consumer products and the following Small Business Cards: Blue for Business® Credit Card and Starwood Guest® Business Credit Card.

You can watch the video on www.americanexpress.com/chip to see contactless technology in action. If you have further questions or would like to request a contactless chip Card, please call the number on the back of your Card to speak to a Customer Care Professional.

The only other contactless cards I could find from U.S. banks are Visa cards issued by Wells Fargo. Look on the back of your card for the “Wave” logo to see if you have a contactless card.

So in the end, I managed to be up to date with technology without even knowing it. Still, I’m already missing the idea of using my Oyster card again. It seems like I just got it and it’s already a relic.

Did you know about contactless payments? Do you have a card with this feature and didn’t know it? Will you use this to pay for your next ride on London’s public transport system? Anything else I forgot to mention? Let me know in the comments.

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

 

 

Getting My Cheesy Kitch On: Our Visit to South of The Border

south-of-the-border-700x209Drive up or down I-95 and after miles and miles of billboards promoting the place, just south of the North Carolina/South Carolina state line, you’ll find South of The Border (SOTB), a tourist attraction in Dillon SC, whose name is a tongue-in-cheek tip of the hat to its Mexican theming. A well worn tourist attraction since its humble beginnings as a beer stand 1949 (the just-north-of-the-border NC counties were “dry” at the time), SOTB runs on both sides of highway 501 and contains, among other things, a truck stop, a 300-room motel, several souvenir shops that sell everything from T-shirts to hats to fireworks to leather goods to beachwear and everything in between, a handful of restaurants, a 200-foot tall observation tower shaped like a sombrero, and the largest reptile exhibit in the country. Oh, and don’t forget the dozens of statues of animals such as dinosaurs, gorillas, dolphins, flamingos, etc., painted in whatever garishly beautiful color was the cheapest paint at the store that day.

For most people, SOTB is just a rest stop. For me, it was a vacation destination. See, I had
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That Time When 40 Spider-Man Cosplayers Filled A Jetstar Plane

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 11.56.19 PM.png“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is scheduled for release next month and to celebrate the event, budget airline Jetstar recently unveiled its brand new Spider-Man-themed “Spider Jet” airplane in Japan. They didn’t stop there, though! As another part of their summer marketing campaign, Jetstar also encouraged Spider-Man cosplayers to enter a contest in order to be on Spider Jet’s maiden flight. The one stipulation was

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Help Us Plan Our Next Trip!

Sharon and I going to make a quick weekend trip (celebrities, you have been given fair warning!) and are looking for things we should NOT MISS.

It’s been almost TWENTY YEARS (I can’t believe it) since I visited the city of Chicago and 13 years since Sharon did. We have a whole day on Saturday to sightsee and really have no idea what to do. Ed Debevics, Sharon’s favorite Chicago food spot, is closed. The one thing I wanted to do isn’t happening because the Chicago Cubs don’t plan their home game schedule around my trips. How dare they! 😉

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My one time seeing a Cubs game at Wrigley. This was a while ago but I still have the hat.

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Our Weekly Recap: 6/18/17 – 6/24/17

Hi everybody and WOO HOO, IT’S THE WEEKEND!! Here’s a quick recap of our posts this week:

Joe wrote about:

Sharon wrote about:

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

Act Now If You Want Two Free Nights at a Swanky Hyatt Hotel

News started to filter out this week that Chase was going to change the sign up bonus for the Hyatt Credit Card. The current offer is:

Earn 2 free nights at any Hyatt hotel or resort worldwide after you spend $2,000 on purchases with the Hyatt Credit Card in the first 3 months from account opening.

Before applying, remember the following disclaimer:

This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.

This sign up bonus is extremely valuable because it’s good at any Hyatt. You can read posts online of how people have stayed at the Park Hyatt in Sydney (it overlooks the Sydney Opera House), or the Park Hyatt Tokyo (it was featured in the film “Lost in Translation”) or the mega-Instagrammable Park Hyatt Maldives. You know, that place with those bungalows that stretch out into the never-ending blue sea.

If you were dreaming of a trip like that, you need to act NOW!!!!

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How Logging Into A Website Can Make Your Booking More Expensive

I’ve read plenty of online articles about how websites give different pricing to people based on which web browser you are using. Originally I saw posts that if you were using Apple’s Safari browser, you’d be shown a higher price because Apple customers tend to have a higher income and wouldn’t notice a few more dollars.

I’ve never noticed this myself so I figured that websites learned that people were smarter than that and would just use a different browser.

Flash forward to the present and when I tried to make booking thru Expedia.

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