October 30, 2021

Half of travel points customers frustrated with redemption process, says survey

Every person loves the idea that they could earn points while spending money that they would any way and eventually, they would be treated to a free trip. Unfortunately, about 68 per cent of people surveyed faced irksome situations when it came to cashing in their points, according to a recent survey conducted by Capital One Canada.

Some of the major issues include hidden fees, blackout dates and the lack of flight availability.

But there is one ray of sunshine within this survey, apparently credit card companies and airlines are changing their ways since customers aren't afraid to walk away and switch card providers, says the survey.

With many travel reward cards to choose from there's lots to consider including annual fees, extra benefits, such as car rental or travel insurance, interest rates, where you can collect points and how quickly you can accumulate points. Most importantly, you should consider any details about the redemption process, such as if there's an expiry date on using your points, and how many points you'll need to redeem for a flight to wherever you want to go.

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October 21, 2021

Are 'pet-friendly' hotels really worth the extra money?

The pitter-patter of paws can be heard in close to half of all Canadian households, so it’s no wonder that the hospitality industry is anxious to capture this demographic with enhanced 'pet-friendly' features.

A decade ago hotels either “accepted” dogs or they didn't, Len Kain, the editor of, a travel site for dog owners, told the New York Times. “You could not really say they welcomed them, that is, encouraged you to bring them.”

But they sure do now.  

Some hotels welcome pets in all rooms; others have a limited number. But their doors are always open to pet owners and their friends.

"It makes good business sense for hotels to recognize that pets are part of the family," says Susan Sims, publisher of Fido Friendly magazine. "People who bring their pets tend to stay longer and spend more."

One reason guests spend more is that, unlike children, pets usually don't stay free. Many hotels charge about $25 a night, others far more, Sims says. You might also have to put down a refundable $100 deposit and accept financial liability for any damage your pet causes.

Pet policies vary widely among pet-friendly accommodations. Some hotels are only dog friendly; others have a 2 pet maximum.

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August 29, 2021

Would you pay extra to sit in a child-free zone on planes and trains?

Unruly children remain the biggest in-flight annoyance for the majority of travellers -- ahead of drunken passengers, surly cabin crew and over-talkative neighbours, according to a recent survey.

One in three passengers dread sitting next to a crying baby or annoying toddler so much that they would be prepared to pay more to sit in a child-free zone on a plane ... as much as $75 per return flight.

Children kicking the back of seats was seen as the most annoying in-flight incident, receiving 74% of the votes, while children crying or being unruly was chosen by 61% of those surveyed.

But help is at hand. One Singapore airline is now offering passengers the option to upgrade to seats in a quiet zone -- where children are nowhere to be found.

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July 31, 2021

Canadians now able to pay with credit card at U.S. gas pumps

Travelling to the US this summer? You'll be happy to hear that gas prices are still about 20% less than we’re paying here. Unfortunately, you may need stacks of cash to buy it.

Billed as an effort to combat card fraud, more and more ‘Zip Code-required’ gas pumps have been popping up along U.S. highways. 

The ZIP-code pump creates hassles for Canadians as it doesn't recognize Canadian postal codes, which include letters as well as numbers. As a result, drivers have to prepay (on-the-spot refunds if you guess wrong aren't attendants' top priority) or leave a credit card inside before filling up.  

But help is at hand, at least in many states. 

When prompted, Canadians can now enter the three numbers in their postal code, and two zeroes. So, if your postal code is A2B 3C4, you enter 23400 and roll on out.

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July 04, 2021

Canadians now entitled to more compensation for delayed flights: report

Here's some good news about airlines' policies concerning involuntary denied boarding, or as most of us know it, getting bumped.

After a Canadian Transportation Agency ruling last month, bumped passengers on Air Canada flights will now receive as much as $800 cash — up from the current $100 — which is a big boost although still less than U.S. airlines which must provide up to a maximum of $1,300, depending on the length of delay.

In the U.S., passengers receive no compensation if they are rerouted within an hour. Between one hour and two hours, compensation is twice the airfare up to a maximum of $650. For delays of more than two hours, compensation is four times the airfare, up to a maximum of $1,300.

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Working Canadians dream of European-length vacations

Canadians play hard and work hard.

So why not be rewarded for all that hard work with more than a three-week vacation?

According to a new study by, employed Canadians would be happier with twice the amount of vacation days currently awarded at their companies.

Last year, Europeans enjoyed an average of 25 to 30 vacation days, while Canadians received about 17 days off work for holidays.

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June 07, 2021

Summer spending pushes to a higher degree

Summer temperatures will soon be rising and so will spending.

With the kids out of school and families embarking on day trips, weekends away, vacations, entertainment and dining out, expenses start to heat up.

According to a new report by BMO Bank of Montreal, Canadians anticipate spending a little more over the summer months but they'll be looking for ways to keep costs down.

Canadians expect to spend an average of $3,978 on non-essential expenses and about another $3,000 on summer travel.

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May 29, 2021

Canadians love U.S. travel

1414861_51130807Canadians love their American friends.

According to Statistics Canada, overnight travel by Canadian citizens to the United States increased in the last quarter of 2012.

And visiting family and friends tops the list of go-sees with 832,000 overnight trips to U.S. destinations, up 19.4 per cent over the same period in 2011.

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May 20, 2021

U.S. bill provides snowbirds even more time in the sun

Canadian snowbirds may soon be able to spend as much as two months more nesting down south next year.

U.S. legislation now being debated in Congress would allow Canadians aged 55 and older to spend up to 240 days in the country without a visa, almost two months longer than the current 182-day annual limit.

The provision is not yet law, but it has the backing of New York Senator Charles Schumer, a legislator who has long been keen on finding ways to get more Canadians spending their dollars across the border.  

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May 17, 2021

Victoria Day weekend signals the start of summer travel

1414861_51130807It's beginning to feel a lot like summer.

And with the Victoria Day long weekend upon us many Canadians have turned their thoughts to adventure and warmer climates.

Even though there's a lot of excitement about upcoming fun in the sun trips, travellers have three top worries while away: the weather, losing something important and requiring medical attention.

According to a study by BMO Insurance, 83 per cent of Canadians are planning on taking a vacation this summer however, only half actually purchase travel insurance.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...