House Architecture, Identity Theft, Mortgage News, Mortgage Rates, Refinance

Don’t Freak Out About the Recent Mortgage Rate ‘Spike’

Queue the panic. Mortgage rates have officially spiked and the media is all over it. Yep, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage increased from 2.65% to 2.79% this week, per Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater noted in the weekly news release that mortgage rates have been under pressure [&hellip

The post Don’t Freak Out About the Recent Mortgage Rate ‘Spike’ first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Identity Theft, Mortgage News

2021 Mortgage and Housing Market Predictions

Welp, it’ll be nice to close out 2020 and look ahead to a brand-new year that hopefully features a lot less drama and much more good news. While the housing market actually absorbed both the COVID-19 pandemic and the presidential election surprisingly well, we can probably thank the record low mortgage rates for that. And [&hellip

The post 2021 Mortgage and Housing Market Predictions first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Identity Theft, Mortgage News

Partial Claim May Be Option for VA Borrowers Exiting COVID-19 Forbearance

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has proposed a new loss mitigation method to help homeowners with VA loans in COVID-19 related forbearance get back on track. The new program, known as the COVID-19 Veterans Assistance Partial Claim Payment program, or COVID-VAPCP for kind of shorter, somewhat mirrors existing programs offered by the FHA and [&hellip

The post Partial Claim May Be Option for VA Borrowers Exiting COVID-19 Forbearance first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Mortgage News

Man going to federal prison for defrauding Spirit out of flights you can easily buy for $9

A Texas man will spend 30 months in federal prison after defrauding ultra-low-cost Spirit Airlines out of free flights. Hubbard Bell, a former Mesa Airlines employee who was fired from the regional carrier after just four months, was apparently unwilling to relinquish one of the so-called perks of the job: access to free Spirit Airlines …

Source: thepointsguy.com

Mortgage News

How to Cancel A Trip or Vacation

No matter how thoroughly you plan your trip, last-minute changes to your personal schedule can still happen. If you need to alter or cancel your travel plans it can be a serious headache—and a lot of lost money might be next. Still, in many cases, cancelling a trip is unavoidable. A sudden family emergency may come up, your work may need you for a huge assignment, or you or your travel companion might unexpectedly fall ill. Life happens — coronavirus pandemics happen. While some cancellation fees are unavoidable, there are a few simple things to keep in mind when these things happen. 

If you need to cancel an upcoming trip, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to mitigate your losses, reduce your money stress, or even secure a rescheduled vacation. Check out these tips that can help you avoid paying full cancellation fees the next time you need to cancel a trip.

  • Know the policies
    • Cancelling a Hotel or Rental
    • Cancelling a Flight
    • Cancelling a Rental Car
    • Cancelling a Tour or Excursion
  • Cancellation Tips: Boosting Your Chances of a Refund
    • Cancel as Early as Possible
    • Just Ask, You Never Know
    • Call, Don’t Email
    • Seek Alternatives to Money
    • Keep that Code
  • Booking Travel Insurance

Know the Policies

First things first: when booking big ticket items for travel, it’s important to make sure you read the fine print. Ideally, you should make sure you know the ins and outs of the airline, hotel, or travel agency’s policies before you enter any credit card info. This includes their cancellation policy. 

Cancelling a Hotel or Rental

For hotels, I usually book with Hotels.com or a similar service—that’s because their cancellation policy often includes general refunds at most hotels if you cancel before a certain date, and sometimes a voucher for a future stay for cases where refunds might not be available. 

If you’ve rented a vacation home from a site like Airbnb, always check the trip cancellation policy listed on the rental profile. While the service might have its own general cancellation policies, individual property managers likely have their own set of requirements and deadlines for cancellation too. 

I also usually go a step further and always make a note on my calendar on the last day it is free to cancel.

Cancelling a Flight

For flights, you should know that federal law states you have 24 hours to cancel your trip from the time you book your flight if you book it at least seven days before the departure date without having to pay a fee—you can check Transportation.gov for further details. Bear in mind that this only applies to flights booked through the carrier itself, not flights booked through third-party websites. Some airlines, like Southwest, have much more generous cancellation policies than others. Though, in many cases, you’ll at least be able to put the money you spent on your flight toward a trip in the future. This varies significantly from airline to airline, so checking trip cancellation policies ahead of time is a must whenever you book a flight.

Cancelling a Rental Car

If you have booked a prepaid rental car at your destination, you should be able to find their cancellation policy on their company website. Most—like Avis and Hertz, two common rental car companies—will charge a fee for cancellations more than 24 hours after you’ve made the booking, and might charge even greater fees if you cancel your tip within 24 hours of the day you’re scheduled to pick up the car.

Cancelling a Tour or Excursion

Tours and excursions that you’ve booked in advance can also be cancelled, but whether you get a full, partial, or no refund will largely depend on the company you’ve booked through. It’s a good idea to pick up the phone and call the agency to see whether there is any flexibility in their trip cancellation policy.

Cancellation tips: boosting your chances of a refund

Cancellation policies imposed by large companies can sometimes be set in stone—but sometimes they might not be. Especially for smaller companies and hospitality services, there might be a bit of wiggle room you can take advantage of if you need your vacation cancelled. Here’s what I usually do to increase my odds of a refund when I need to cancel a trip. 

Cancel As Early As Possible

Just like most industries, time is money in hospitality—so if you do suddenly find out that your trip must be cancelled, don’t put it off. The minute you know you can’t go, start making calls to cancel all your plans. Begin with the big-ticket items, like flights and hotel reservations, and work your way down to smaller things like tours and restaurant reservations.

Often, travel services are hesitant to offer refunds because they might not have time to sell your spot to a new customer. That makes it important to start early because if the hotel, resort, or cruise line has time to resell your tickets, you have a higher chance of receiving a refund.

Just Ask, You Never Know

Even if you think a reservation is hopeless, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Once, I had to cancel a trip due to a vaccination error (that was completely my fault). I had to cancel my entire trip and found out the night before! Instead of giving up, I called and explained the situation. 

The hotel gave me a full refund because they received tons of walk in service and, since it was high season, they knew they would find a new customer for the room immediately. That was a pleasant surprise that I didn’t see coming! Not bad for cancelling a vacation last minute. Ultimately, you don’t know what kind of customer service and travel deals are available unless you actively seek them out.

Call, Don’t Email

Notice I said start making calls, not sending emails. Talking to a person, and especially the right person, can make a huge difference in getting a partial or even full refund. Often, it helps to speak to someone in management, as high up as possible. Remember, a manager is much more likely to waive a cancellation fee or refund your money than an hourly employee. 

When you first call it’s likely someone at the front desk will answer the phone. You can then ask to speak to managers and slowly move your way up the chain of command—just be sure that you’re polite. It’s not the front desk employee’s fault that they have to enforce whatever vacation cancellation policy the hotel or airline has in place. 

Seek Alternatives to Money

If a vendor can’t refund your cash, your next inquiry should be about any sort of alternatives they can offer other than money. This is often something like a voucher for future service, or some portion of your money put toward a later booking. On the trip I mentioned before, where I had to cancel because of missing vaccinations, I had tons of tours booked. Although I wasn’t able to get a refund for them, they did promise to reschedule all the tours when I did get a chance to take my trip. 

If you do get any offer for future service, be sure to have them send it to you in writing. I kept the emails from the tour companies, and when I finally did go a couple of months later, I conveniently rebooked all the tours!

Keep That Code

If you manage to score any sort of refund or voucher for a future booking, write down any confirmation code they send you and keep it somewhere safe. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your bank accounts or credit card statement and make sure that the money has been refunded after a couple of days. If it’s not, you’ll have their confirmation email and code in writing so you can call and inquire after your refund. It’s also wise to look into using a travel card, which might be able to offer you some protection against difficult refund situations.

Booking Travel Insurance

One of the best ways to avoid the hassle of travel cancellations is to purchase a travel insurance policy. Travel insurance is generally fairly inexpensive—around 5% to 10% of the total cost of your trip, depending on a few details like your age, the kind of trip you’re taking, and how many people you plan on adding to the policy.

Travel insurance can also be helpful to have even if you do end up going on the trip, but something goes wrong, like an airline losing your luggage, or getting injured while abroad and needing emergency medical insurance. The expense might seem like a hassle on top of all your other bookings, but the more you stand to lose from a sudden cancellation, the smarter it usually is to invest in protection for your plans. And even budget-friendly vacations might benefit from being insured. After all, you never know what might happen.

When traveling, you want to make every dollar count. Make sure you know your travel companies policies, you’re diligent about calling and speaking with managers, and you insure trips if you can. With the right planning and foresight, even an unexpected trip cancellation doesn’t have to be a disaster. 

The post How to Cancel A Trip or Vacation appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

Cash Back, Mortgage News

Stacking up deals to max out cash back, points on holiday shopping

It’s shopping season, and millions of us who aren’t out shopping in stores right now are sitting in front of our computers buying out the internet. It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for groceries or gifts – if shopping is on your to-do list this month, you’re in luck.

With retail stores scrambling for shoppers, the cash-back craze gone wild and banks offering up to 10 points per dollar on some purchases to entice consumers to use their credit cards, the opportunities for stacking deals upon deals has reached fever pitch.

Right now, there are more stackable offers for online shopping than I’ve ever seen in all my years of points wrangling. There are so many offers, in fact, that some days I find myself in shopping paralysis trying to decide which credit card to pair with which offer and accompanying points or cash back portal to get the best return. These are the good kinds of 2020 problems that put money back into your pocket.

See related: Not traveling anytime soon? Here’s what do to with your points and miles

Getting started with deal-stacking

If you’ve never heard of deal stacking, it’s just a fancy term for using multiple coupons or deals to maximize your savings or earnings on one purchase. In the travel-rewards world, we also like to call it the double or triple dip.

Getting started with deal stacking is as easy as considering each and every one of these three steps or ‘stacks’ anytime you make a credit card purchase.

Stack 1: Check for credit card offers and register if needed

Always choose the card that will earn the most points per dollar spent in your purchase category. And don’t forget to register for any special offers from your credit card to earn bonus points or discounts. These offers are usually easy to find by logging into your credit card account.

Stack 2: Shop using cash back- or points-earning portals

Before you buy online, always access the online store via a shopping portal like Ibotta or Rakutan rewards if you’re looking for cash back. If you’re collecting points, try the portal of your favorite airline, hotel group or bank program.

A tool like Cash Back Monitor can help you decide which portal will offer you the best return for each purchase you’re planning to make.

Stack 3: Scan your receipts for more rewards

After you make your purchase, scan your receipt into an app like Fetch Rewards or CoinOut to accrue points that can be turned into gift cards for more shopping – and even more savings.

Deal-stacking in practice

My friend Angel Trinh over at Pennywise Traveler is a rock star on deal-stacking and loves to share tutorials on her stacking successes. Because points-stacking is best explained through example, here’s how she’s stacking up deals for her Amazon purchases this month using her American Express® Gold Card.

Putting into practice the first stacking principle, when Trinh checked her American Express Gold Card account this month, she saw that she was targeted with an offer to earn 8 Membership Rewards points per dollar on Amazon purchases (up to 3,000 points). She registered her card for the offer, then set out to spend $375 – the amount it would take to max out the bonus to earn the full 3,000 points.

“For American Express, the best way to maximize deal stacking and to save money is to add AmEx offers to your account,” Trinh explains. “You can add a maximum of 100 offers to your account for discounts.”

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