With rules updating on a constant basis, you’ll need to know these eight new things if you want to travel to Cuba in 2016. 1. The Restrictions Are Not Over—Yet President Obama loosened the rules substantially and you can now travel to Cuba as an individual; you no longer need to be in a group. But the U.S. government maintains some limitations on entry. You have to be traveling for one of twelve specified purposes; family visits, education, support for the Cuban people, and a few others. You don’t need to obtain permission in advance, but you have to certify one of the legitimate purposes when you arrange your trip. Check here for more details. This is strictly a U.S. requirement; the Cuban government’s position is, “Y’all come.” Folks in the industry seem to think that nobody will ever try to verify that you did what you said you would. But if you’re antsy, I’m pretty sure some enterprising organizations will happily arrange for … [Read more...] about 8 Things You Need to Know About Traveling to Cuba in 2016
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While the doors into Cuba are ajar and continue to open wider, there are still import regulations to heed. To go there, U.S. visitors must fall within the twelve approved categories—including family visits, educational activities, religious activities, and humanitarian projects—for Cuba travel. Travelers need to make trip arrangements through a provider that complies with the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations. And if you're tempted to go through a third country such as Canada or Mexico, make sure you still fit one of these categories. You can find the full list in the White House's FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba. While the doors into Cuba are ajar and continue to open wider, there are still import regulations to heed. To go there, U.S. visitors must fall within the twelve approved categories—including family visits, educational activities, religious activities, and humanitarian projects—for Cuba travel. Travelers need … [Read more...] about How to Travel to Cuba Legally from the U.S.
While not technically a foreign country (it's an unincorporated territory), the United States Virgin Islands feel like a million miles away—and we couldn't resist including this Caribbean destination. A speedy 2.5-hour flight from Miami whisks stateside trekkers to the Virgin Islands, where U.S. passports are unnecessary. The popular tropical stop's official currency is the U.S. dollar—handy for those looking to splurge on expensive goods in St. Thomas' portside boutiques. High-end labels like Gucci and Coach crowd Charlotte Amalie, where savvy shoppers swamp the jewelry stores, mining for deals on diamonds and Hublot watches. In fact, shopping sprees are among the U.S.V.I.'s big draws: U.S. citizens can purchase up to $1,600 worth of duty-free merchandise here, whereas the rest of the Caribbean caps duty-free purchases at just $800. While not technically a foreign country (it's an unincorporated territory), the United States Virgin Islands feel like a million miles … [Read more...] about 10 Foreign Places That Accept U.S. Currency
These days, credit cards and debit cards are almost as much a part of travel as planes, trains, and automobiles. Doing an entire trip with nothing but cash or checks seems almost quaint. But those of us who rely on credit or debit cards have to be on the lookout for gotchas from the card companies. Here are eight of the worst you’re likely to encounter. Charging extra for foreign transactions has had an up-and-down history. For a long time, transactions originating outside the U.S. were converted at a wholesale rate, plus a fee of about one percent to the MasterCard and Visa networks for the actual conversion, and posted to your account as converted. Later, cards started adding fees, generally three percent, to those transactions—even transactions conducted in U.S. dollars. Most recently, a fair number of traveler-oriented cards—especially premium airline cards—have removed the three percent surcharge, or at least reduced it to the one percent network fee. But … [Read more...] about The Worst Credit Card Gotchas to Avoid When You Travel
At the time of writing, the only way to travel to Cuba legally from the U.S. is under one of the 12 categories of authorized travel by the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These categories include family visits, official government business, journalism, professional research and meetings, educational or religious activities, and humanitarian projects, among others. The easiest way to travel to Cuba from the U.S. is through an authorized tour company, like AccessTrips, that will organize a legal people-to-people itinerary on your behalf. At the time of writing, the only way to travel to Cuba legally from the U.S. is under one of the 12 categories of authorized travel by the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These categories include family visits, official government business, journalism, professional research and meetings, educational or religious activities, and humanitarian projects, among others. The easiest way to … [Read more...] about Cuba Travel Tips: What You Should Know Before You Travel to Cuba from the U.S.
Confused by the dozens of credit card choices available to you? Disregard all the touting that you see in ads — these are too general and not targeted to your specific mileage or points needs. Your choice must be specifically tailored to what’s best for you.Choosing a credit card can be daunting. Advertisements gush about “earning free travel” and “5,000-mile bonuses.” If you were to believe everything you hear and read, you would probably be convinced that there are dozens of credit cards, all touting great, yet similar, rewards. Upon closer inspection, however, you would find that not all credit cards are created equal. Most will satisfy your basic desire to earn bonus miles and points with each purchase, but it is a very, very rare credit card indeed that meets all of your demands when it comes to flexibility, acceptance, benefits and fees.This past year has seen more changes in the credit card industry than the previous 15 years combined. From … [Read more...] about The Credit Card Choice
Northwest Airlines Dividend Miles members who are also US Bank WorldPerks credit cardmembers will soon receive a new credit card to replace their co-branded WorldPerks card. US Bank will be offering a new travel rewards card called FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa to replace the Dividend Miles credit card. Cardmembers will earn FlexPoints that can be redeemed for flights on any airline, a statement credit, merchandise or other awards. We spoke with Bob Daly, Vice President, Retail Payment Solutions at U.S. Bank, about the card. InsideFlyer Bob Daly IF DalyIf you look at the industry data, the growth of the number of miles in the marketplace vs. the growth of the number of seats in the marketplace–it’s just not sustainable. We said, hey, let’s fix that. On the earn side, our cardholders earn one FlexPoint for each dollar spent and each month they will earn two FlexPoints for each dollar spent on gas, grocery or airline ticket purchases. They don’t have to do … [Read more...] about [ 60 Seconds ] with Bob Daly, VP Retail Payment Solutions at US Bank
BalticMiles surprised a lot of people this past April when the loyalty program for airBaltic took home two Freddie Awards. The chief executive officer, Gabi Kool, plays a large part in the program’s success. He says the aim of the company is to create the most successful loyalty management company in Northern and Eastern Europe, supporting leading airlines, retailers and financial institutions.Prior to Mr. Kool’s current position, he spent 15 years in finance, loyalty marketing and general management, focusing on the aviation, retail and hospitality industry. He worked with Carlson Marketing and successfully launched and managed VOILA Hotel Rewards, the first global loyalty program for independent hotels.BalticMiles currently has 500,000 members but Kool says that they have, “the ambition to grow to three million members by 2015.” We recently caught up with Kool via email to ask a few questions.InsideFlyer Congratulations on your recent Freddie Award … [Read more...] about Travel Talk
There have been many articles published recently questioning whether it’s worthwhile to carry a mile-earning card these days. Why not just switch to a cash-back card and earn between a one and five percent rebate on all your purchases?For example, the American Express Blue Cash card offers five percent cash back on grocery store, drugstore and gas station purchases and 1.5 percent cash back on all other charges to the card after you spend a total of $6,500 on the card each year. For purchases made below the $6,500 threshold, you’ll earn one percent on groceries, gas and drugstore purchases and only 0.5 percent on everything else. Unlike mileage cards and other cash back cards that credit your account every month, you’ll only receive a rebate once per year with the Blue Cash card. After spending $10,000 on food, gas and drugstore items plus another $10,000 on everything else, you’ll have $487.50 to spend on travel, without having to contend with … [Read more...] about Credit Card Choices
Car Most countries require both a valid U.S. driver's license and an international driving permit ($15) to rent a car. Get one at an AAA office or apply online at aaa.com. Taxi Only use licensed taxis, and ask for a price quote in advance. Bus Keep your pack with you if at all possible; if not, stowing it under the bus, not on top, is safer. Up your chances of getting a seat by arriving early or boarding at a station, not a neighborhood stop. Train Book a sleeper car on an overnight train to save transit time. Ask how long the train will stop at your destination–if it's short, retrieve your luggage before the stop is announced and wait near the door so you don't miss it. Calling Home Cheapest Sign up for an online phone service (like Skype or Yahoo! Voice), then call another computer from an internet café for free. Easiest Buy a calling card at your destination and dial from any land line phone. Most flexible Rent or buy an international prepaid cell phone at … [Read more...] about Travel Like a Pro: What to Do When You Get There