Chip + PIN Cards; Why You Should Have One

By now, I’m sure you have a credit card with a chip, or EMV chip to be specific, in your possession. It’s that thing on your card that makes the person at the checkout tell you, “You need to use your chip in the bottom thingie,” or makes them say when you try to insert your chip card, “We don’t use that chip thing yet, so you need to swipe your card.”

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That thing on the left side of the card is the “chip”

In the U.S.A., we like the think we lead the world in just about everything, but when it comes to credit card security we are decades behind the curve. EMV ( Europay, Mastercard and Visa) chip technology was introduced back in the 1990s and rolled out throughout Europe in the 2000s. The chip in the card is used to confirm the information instead of reading the information off the magnetic strip on the back. This technology is harder to counterfeit and, supposedly, cuts down on fraud. The banks in Europe rolled out this technology first because credit card fraud was, at the time, much more common there. When the chip cards were introduced and helped prevent fraud, the criminals went to the least protected market, the USA, so they could continue with the scamming. Lucky us.

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Airline Boarding Groups: The Master List

When you check in for a flight, either by printing a boarding pass on your computer or by using a mobile device, you’re provided with a boarding group. This lets you know when you’ll be getting on the plane. Getting  group 3 on one airline might be great but could be terrible for another airline.

Regardless of that number, just know you’re not getting on the plane when the boarding process starts unless you’re a super elite frequent flyer or a disabled passenger in a wheelchair. The passengers with some sort of loyalty with the airline or one of their partners and the passengers who paid for first class will go next. Why not stay seated until your group (or at least the one right before it is called) cause you’re gonna have a long wait just to have your ticket scanned and all you’re going to is stand on the jet bridge for a while before getting on the plane.

Just be patient and don’t be like the people in this video from JetBlue

 

 

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A Quick Lesson In How To NOT Videotape Your Vacation ;-)

Unless you’re of the generation that has been raised with computers, smart phones, etc., there can sometimes be a learning curve when you have a new piece of electronics. For some it might be as simple as a glance at the instructions just to learn one specific thing. For others, well, maybe they need to take a class or two. Such was the case of this poor chap…

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How Much Time Should You Spend Picking Out A Hotel?

I’ve read about something called the Law of Diminishing Returns. In short, it says that every extra minute you spend on something will get you less in return than the minute before.

Take, for instance, booking a hotel room. For every question you answer, there will always be two new questions  How are the ratings of the hotels in the area? Are there any promotions going on right now that might apply?  Should you use points or cash? Could you book with AAA, Costco or book a package to save money? Which card should you use to pay? The amount of things to consider are dizzying. Don’t even get me started when you also have to consider using hotel points.

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Here are some hints to keep you from spending more time planning your trip than you spend ON your trip 🙂

  • Use technology to your advantage. I love to look at Oyster for pictures of the hotels which aren’t doctored by the marketing departments.  I also use TripAdvisor or Trivago to find a place in my price range, even if Trivago’s ads can be a bit creepy.

  • Try to narrow your search and broaden as needed. If you start looking at 100 hotels, it’ll take forever. Pick a specific neighborhood or hotel chain or price range and start there.
  • Learn that there is no “perfect.” The faster you learn this, the happier you will be. Stop trying to find the perfect hotel. If you’re choosing between the #1 and #2 hotel in the area, you’ll most likely be happy at either one of them.
  • Know what is important to YOU. Do you need internet access in the room? Do you need a gym? What about a refrigerator or even a kitchen? Do you need a hotel with room service? Laundry? Airport Shuttle? Nearby access to Starbucks? All of these are important to some people, but maybe not to you. Use these things to help you choose.
  • If using points, I look to Hotel Hustle to show me which chains have points hotels in the area. It also shows the value per point based on going rates. It’s a quick way to see if using points for a room is worth looking into.
  • Know what you have to work with. If you have any free nights from credit cards (Marriott, IHG, Hyatt) don’t let them go to waste. Same goes for hotel points or gift cards. It’s always better to spend someone else’s money.
  • Think really hard before making a non-refundable reservation. Will those few extra dollars be worth it if you need to change your trip? What if a really good price comes up at that other hotel you were looking at? It’s always good to leave your options open.

I’ve spent many an hour in front of the computer, trying to decide which hotel to stay at. It shouldn’t be that hard of a decision. You should spend more time on your vacation than figuring out where to stay during it.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary