Money and Finances

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

COVID-19 and travel company bailouts

I'm not a medical expert, so I've refrained from cluttering the Internet with more potentially confusing or erroneous advice about travel during a pandemic. My medical advice is to listen to medical experts. But with Congress debating financial proposals related to travel companies, and not health, it's time for me... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 24 March 2020, 20:40 ( 8:40 PM) | Comments (4)

Monday, 12 December 2016

Notes from Amsterdam, Brussels, and Istanbul

["Hasbrouck" is a French Huguenot name, presumably of Flemish etymology, meaning "Rabbit Marsh" or, as a Belgian customs man once told me, "Swamp of the Bunnies". It's spelled differently in France, South Africa, the USA, and the Netherlands. One evening on the way back to my hostel from a... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 12 December 2016, 20:13 ( 8:13 PM) | Comments (3)

Saturday, 9 April 2016

More news about blocking of money transfers

Hard on the heels of last month's report of the bank that blocked a request for a check to a dog-walker because the dog's name ("Dash") on the memo line of the check resembled the Arabic acronym "Daesh" for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) comes a new... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 9 April 2016, 21:10 ( 9:10 PM) | Comments (2)

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

How does your bank know your dog's not a terrorist?

I was interviewed by Monte Francis of KTVU (Channel 2) News last week to help make sense out of what happened to Bruce Francis, a disabled San Francisco man whose online request to send a check to pay the person who walks his service dog was refused by Chase... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 30 March 2016, 10:56 (10:56 AM) | Comments (4)

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Bicycle touring in Argentina

My partner and I spent June and July of 2015 (southern hemisphere winter) bicycling across Argentina, west to east, from Mendoza to Buenos Aires. tl;dr summary: We had a good trip, and we would recommend it and do it again ourselves (with some different preparations and expectations). But travelling... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 29 September 2015, 14:50 ( 2:50 PM) | Comments (5)

Sunday, 21 June 2015

FCC finally takes note of robocall/SMS terms of service -- 6 years late

Six years ago, American Express changed its terms of service to require cardholders to give AmEx permission to robocall or text-message them "at any telephone number " you provide to us or from which you place a call to us, or any telephone number at which we reasonably believe we... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 21 June 2015, 08:20 ( 8:20 AM) | Comments (0)

Monday, 22 September 2014

Business and pleasure in Cancún at the TBEX travel bloggers' conference

[San Miguelito archeological site in the hotel zone, Cancún] I was in Cancún last week for the TBEX conference of travel bloggers. Blogging is a fairly solitary activity, and not everyone understands what it means to be a professional blogger or travel writer. I write about independent do-it-yourself travel,... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 22 September 2014, 07:54 ( 7:54 AM) | Comments (11)

Thursday, 4 April 2013

"When you check in, your private information may be checked out"

I was quoted in Christopher Elliott's "Navigator" column in the Washington Post travel section last Sunday, talking about how personal information we provide to hotels -- including, but not limited to, credit card numbers -- is or isn't protected: When you check in, your private information may be checked out.... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 4 April 2013, 06:43 ( 6:43 AM) | Comments (0)

Friday, 24 August 2012

eBay and Paypal change their terms to require users' consent to unlimited robocalls and text-message spam

Back in 2009, I reported that credit-card issuers led by American Express had begun requiring their customers' consent to receive unlimited robocalls and text messages at any telephone number those customers had ever used, including cellphone numbers. That posed a risk of harassment for all customers, a risk of extra... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 24 August 2012, 12:38 (12:38 PM) | Comments (2)

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Amazing Race 20, Episode 4

Asunción (Paraguay) - Turin (Italy) Ten years of Euros The most difficult challenge for the teams on The Amazing Race 20 this week in Turin was a clue in the form of an Italian 2-euro-cent coin, which they had to figure out meant they were supposed to find their next... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 11 March 2012, 23:59 (11:59 PM) | Comments (0)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Is the advertised price too good to be true? No. (Part 2 of 2)

Yersterday I analyzed a deceptive travel deal that was much less of a discount from the regular price than it was advertised to be. Today I'll look at the flip side of the coin: What happens when you are offered a price that's much more of a deal than... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 31 January 2012, 21:16 ( 9:16 PM) | Comments (1)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Watch for a check like this in the mail!

If you used a US-issued VISA or MasterCard, or a VISA or MasterCard-branded ATM card, to make purchases or withdraw cash in foreign currency between 1996 and 2006, look for a check like the one below in your mail this week. Mine was delivered yesterday, so yours might have been... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 25 January 2012, 07:25 ( 7:25 AM) | Comments (7)

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Amazing Race 18, Episode 9 (travel insurance)

Zermatt (Switzerland) Who can you call on for help when things go wrong in a foreign country? And what can they do? This week the remaining teams on The Amazing Race 18 got to act out some of the roles of Alpine emergency first responders. Carried by rescue helicopter to... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 1 May 2011, 23:59 (11:59 PM) | Comments (4)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

USA ends Syria travel "warning" but keeps financial sanctions

The USA has withdrawn its official "warning" regarding travel to Syria by US citizens, but has kept in place all of its economic sanctions against certain Syrian nationals, including the Syrian government. Unfortunately, neither the official announcement that the warning has been withdrawn, nor the updated country-specific information for... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 23 February 2010, 13:45 ( 1:45 PM) | Comments (3)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Appeals filed in credit/ATM card foreign currency fee lawsuit

As an objector to the unfair settlement (underpaying people who have lived abroad or travelled abroad for extended periods) of the class action lawsuit against banks and credit card companies for hiding their fees for foreign-currency transactions, I've received notice that several other objectors have appealed the District Court's approval... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 13 December 2009, 15:52 ( 3:52 PM) | Comments (0)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Amazing Race 15, Episode 8 (Health care reform & travel)

Haggvik (Sweden) - Tallinn (Estonia) - Keava (Estonia): USA health care reform, travellers, and expatriates Last week's episode pushed the contestants on The Amazing Race to their physical limits, leading me to explore the physical prerequisites for extended independent travel. This week's episode was almost equally grueling, and brings us... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 15 November 2009, 23:59 (11:59 PM) | Comments (5)

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Chase joins "Hall of Shame" for credit card terms and conditions

I've previously recommended the credit card issued by Chase in conjunction with the Amtrak Guest Rewards frequent-rider program as one of the best frequent-traveller credit cards, depending on whether you travel regularly on Amtrak, and if so on which routes. It has high fees for foreign transactions, cash advances, or... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 8 November 2009, 11:17 (11:17 AM) | Comments (0)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Travellers short-changed in currency conversion fee decision

In a ruling issued 22 October 2009, the judge hearing the Federal class-action lawsuit against credit card companies for fraudulently hidden and/or inflated fees for credit, debit, and ATM transactions in foreign currencies has overruled all of the objections to the settlement and to the plan for allocating what's left... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 4 November 2009, 19:14 ( 7:14 PM) | Comments (1)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

How "typical" is long-term travel?

When we think of international "travel", our instinct is to think of a short "vacation", or a business "trip". But when we travel abroad, outside of a few of the most-touristed places at the most-touristed times of the year, we often find that most of the other U.S. citizens we... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 1 September 2009, 19:59 ( 7:59 PM) | Comments (1)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Your chance to be heard on fees for foreign currency card usage

If you've ever used an ATM card with a Visa or Mastercard logo issued in the USA to get cash in foreign currency (i.e. local currency, not U.S. dollars) from an ATM in another country; if you've ever paid for accommodations abroad in foreign currency, either with cash obtained from... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 7 July 2009, 14:31 ( 2:31 PM) | Comments (1)

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Update on currency conversion fee lawsuit

Not much of substance has happened, but some additional documents (see below) have been filed in the class action lawsuit against credit card companies and banks for hiding their fees foreign-currency credit, debit, and ATM card transactions.... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 26 May 2009, 10:53 (10:53 AM) | Comments (0)

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

More crazy credit-card terms and conditions: Capital One

After getting notices of outrageous new terms and conditions from American Express and Bank of America and hearing about similar new terms for Paypal credit cards (see the comments) issued by GE Money Bank, I requested copies of the current terms and conditions for all of my current cards. I... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 24 March 2009, 09:22 ( 9:22 AM) | Comments (3)

Thursday, 19 March 2009

AmEx continues to spam me ... after closing my account

As I've previously reported, American Express closed my account because I objected to the new terms they proposed that would have required me, in order to keep my AmEx card after 2 April 2009, to "consent" (on behalf of myself and anyone else whose phone I might ever use to... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 19 March 2009, 05:52 ( 5:52 AM) | Comments (1)

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

NYTimes.com on changes to AmEx cardholder terms

The New York Times "Gadgetwise" blog kicks off its new security and privacy beat today with a feature on the changes in credit and charge card terms I've been reporting in recent weeks. As of now, the card issuers and card labels imposing similar terms include, for at least some... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 18 March 2009, 15:34 ( 3:34 PM) | Comments (1)

Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Amazing Race 14, Episode 4

Bran (Romania) - Moscow (Russia) - Krasnoyarsk (Russia) Sometimes you find yourself -- most often because it's on the way to somewhere else -- in a place where there are no tourists and there is nothing particularly "touristic" to do. Like, say, Krasnoyarsk. Unlike most travel agents, I've actually sold... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 8 March 2009, 23:59 (11:59 PM) | Comments (4)

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Say it ain't so, Chuck Schwab

Following my own advice after American Express cancelled my card, I applied to Charles Schwab Bank for a new credit card to use when travelling abroad. (I used to have a different Charles Schwab Bank credit card, but it had a 3% surcharge for foreign currency transactions, and the bank... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 7 March 2009, 07:38 ( 7:38 AM) | Comments (14)

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Amazing Race 14, Episode 3

Salzburg (Austria) - Munich (Germany) - Bucharest (Romania) - Brasov (Romania) - Bran (Romania) Why are we still in Europe, still making our way only slowly East, three weeks into the season of The Amazing Race 14 ? We'll tackle that question next week. But for now, let's look at... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 1 March 2009, 23:59 (11:59 PM) | Comments (1)

AmEx cancelled my card. Now what should I do?

A week ago today I reported on the announcement by American Express of new terms effective 2 April 2009 for personal AmEx cards issued in the USA, under which, in order to obtain or retain an AmEx card, you will have to "agree" that AmEx has your "consent" to send... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 1 March 2009, 16:17 ( 4:17 PM) | Comments (11)

Lawsuit over fees for card use abroad still not settled

Almost a year has passed since I wrote about the pending class action lawsuit against credit card companies and banks for hiding the currency conversion and processing fees they've been charging whenever customers with credit, debit, and ATM cards issued in the USA use those cards outside the USA. "Where's... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 1 March 2009, 11:27 (11:27 AM) | Comments (2)

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Urgent warning to American Express cardholders

If you have an American Express card, you need to take action now: Unless you cancel your card and close your account, or unless AmEx is persuaded to withdraw changes it has announced (effective 2 April 2009) to the terms of its agreement with cardholders, you will be deemed to... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 22 February 2009, 12:52 (12:52 PM) | Comments (24)

Thursday, 8 January 2009

"World Travel In Troubled Economic Times"

I'll be speaking at Get Lost Travel Books in San Francisco on Thursday evening, January 22nd, on "World Travel In Troubled Economic Times": Jump-start your next international journey with this talk by Edward Hasbrouck author of "The Practical Nomad". Back in San Francisco after a 13 month, 6 continent, 80,000... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 8 January 2009, 07:20 ( 7:20 AM) | Comments (2)

Thursday, 1 January 2009

OFAC, banks, and Syria travel sanctions

[Some of the World Heritage Sites in Aleppo, Syria: The Al-Madina souk (left) and the Umayyad Mosque (right). Update: These photos were taken during my visit in 2008. Both of these sites were heavily damaged in fighting in 2012 and 2013. Click images for news reports and current photos.... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 1 January 2009, 11:22 (11:22 AM) | Comments (14)

Thursday, 27 November 2008

KCBS: Holiday travel bargains?

KCBS called today to ask about whether the decline in the economy has made bargain airfares available for holiday travel -- and if so, how to find them. For my answers, you can download the mp3 podcast (5 minutes). A lot of travel is discretionary, and both individuals and businesses... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 27 November 2008, 20:50 ( 8:50 PM) | Comments (1)

Monday, 11 February 2008

Money for travellers from class action lawsuit

If you are from the USA, and reading this blog, you are probably eligible to get some money from a class action lawsuit you might not have heard about. You can get at least $25 for the asking (and maybe many times more) if at any time between 1996 and... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 11 February 2008, 09:17 ( 9:17 AM) | Comments (6)

Saturday, 21 April 2007

"Bottom Line Personal" on travel insurance

There's an interview with me on "Travel Insurance: What You Need -- and Don't Need" in the May 2007 issue of Bottom Line Personal magazine. If you are looking for more detailed advice and suggested providers of insurance for travellers, see my FAQ on Travel Insurance and the chapter and... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 21 April 2007, 13:21 ( 1:21 PM) | Comments (0)

Monday, 26 June 2006

New York Times on changing money

Practical Traveler: How to Get the Best Exchange Rate (by David A. Kelly, New York Times, Sunday Travel Section, 26 June 2006): Make sure you check ahead to learn what bank cards or traveler's checks will be accepted at your destination, and have a backup plan. "The main thing is... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 26 June 2006, 08:43 ( 8:43 AM) | Comments (0)

Monday, 17 April 2006

Newsweek travel tip sheet: "A Vacation Well Spent"

Travel: A Vacation Well Spent (by Ramin Setoodeh, Newsweek, 24 April 2006 print issue): The average American will take eight vacation days this summer--and spend several hundred dollars to get there. To help you plan ahead, we asked ... for advice on how to save some change. Here are their... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 17 April 2006, 08:03 ( 8:03 AM) | Comments (0)

Monday, 13 February 2006

Are incomplete "prices" in airline advertisements misleading?

Inquiring minds at the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) want to know your opinion today: Should the DOT continue to allow airlines to advertise "prices" that are actually less than the total amount that you have to pay for a ticket? The Department [of Transportation] is considering amending its rule... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 13 February 2006, 11:08 (11:08 AM) | Comments (0)

Monday, 30 January 2006

Government subsidies to airlines

There's a discussion on Dave Farber's Interesting-People mailing list about the ways that governments subsidize commercial passenger airlines. As I've been writing about for years, airlines whine about "regulations" and "freedom of the skies", but in fact they receive a wide range of subsidies, tax preferences, and other forms of... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 30 January 2006, 08:28 ( 8:28 AM) | Comments (14)

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

The Amazing Race 8 (Family Edition), Episode 8

Page, AZ (USA) - Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, UT (USA) - Moab, UT (USA - Green River State Park, UT (USA) - Heber City, UT (USA) - Park City, UT (USA) - Salt Lake City, UT (USA) I don't have much to say about this week's episode of The... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 22 November 2005, 23:59 (11:59 PM) | Comments (2)

Tuesday, 31 August 2004

The Amazing Race 5, Episode 9

Dubai (United Arab Emirates) - Kolkata, West Bengal (India) Starting during the first season, I've urged in my columns that the producers of The Amazing Race give the contestants less money, to cut down the extent to which the race hinges on the speed and recklessness of taxi drivers rather... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 31 August 2004, 23:59 (11:59 PM) | Comments (0)

Tuesday, 13 July 2004

The Amazing Race 5, Episode 2

Punta Ballena (Uruguay) - Montevideo (Uruguay) - Colonia del Sacramento (Uruguay) - Buenos Aires (Argentina) - San Antonio de Areco (Argentina) The Amazing Race has been plagued with bad timing, starting with the broadcast of the premiere episode (featuring scenes of racing through the streets of Manhattan) on 5 September... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 13 July 2004, 23:16 (11:16 PM) | Comments (0)

Monday, 26 April 2004

Fare fraud on the Airtrain to JFK Airport

In New York last week for the Travelcom travel marketing, distribution, and technology conference and trade show, I had my first chance to ride the new Airtrain shuttle between the terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the Howard Beach station on the New York City subway's A-train, and the... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 26 April 2004, 21:22 ( 9:22 PM) | Comments (0)

Friday, 13 February 2004

Why CAPPS-II would cost a billion dollars

Several people have asked for the basis of my cost estimate for CAPPS-II, quoted today in Business Travel News online and elsewhere. My estimate of US$1 billion or more in in infrastructure and implementation costs to airlines, computerized reservations systems (CRS's), travel agencies and agents, other intermediaries, and software and... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 13 February 2004, 12:41 (12:41 PM) | Comments (0)

Tuesday, 27 January 2004

A few of our favorite places

Airtreks.com staff recommendations (from the January 2004 Airtreks.com monthly newsletter -- you can subscribe here at the lower left of the home page) Travelers often ask our consultants, "Where do you think we should go?" Usually, our answer is, "Wherever you like!" Each of you, like each of us, has... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 27 January 2004, 18:26 ( 6:26 PM) | Comments (0)

Saturday, 17 January 2004

Come to the USA from Europe to buy a car?

Americans taking a long trip through Europe, and in the market for a new car anyway, often used to arrange to purchase a European car direct from the manufacturer or a dealer in Europe, pick it up in Europe (perhaps directly at the factory), use it for their European travels,... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 17 January 2004, 20:10 ( 8:10 PM) | Comments (6)

Tuesday, 2 December 2003

Beware of confusing Philippine Pesos with USA quarters

People in more cosmopolitan countries than the USA are used to watching out for all sorts of different coins and currencies showing up in their change. (At least with paper money -- what the rest of the world calls "notes" and the USA calls "bills" -- most countries make it... (...Read Entire Entry)
Link | Posted by Edward, 2 December 2003, 15:35 ( 3:35 PM) | Comments (1)

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"Don't believe anything just because you read it on the Internet. Anyone can say anything on the Internet, and they do. The Internet is the most effective medium in history for the rapid global propagation of rumor, myth, and false information." (From The Practical Nomad Guide to the Online Travel Marketplace, 2001)
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