Fill­ing up in U.S.?

Here’s a good credit card tip

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - TRAVEL - RON PRADINUK For­ward your travel ques­tions to askjour­neys@jour­neystravel.com. Ron Pradinuk is pres­i­dent of Jour­neys Travel & Leisure Su­perCen­tre and can be heard Sun­days at noon on CJOB. Pre­vi­ous col­umns and tips can be found at www. jour­neystrav­el­gear.

READ­ERS of this col­umn fre­quently di­rect oth­ers to me for a ques­tion re­lat­ing to us­ing Canadian-based credit cards at United States fu­elling sta­tions.

When a card is run through at a U.S. fill­ing sta­tion, a zip code is re­quired for verification. En­ter­ing a Canadian postal code usu­ally re­sults in a re­jec­tion with a re­quire­ment to go into the lo­ca­tion and pre­pay a des­ig­nated amount.

This then means a sec­ond trip back to the sta­tion for a re­ceipt, or al­ter­na­tively a credit back to the credit card if the num­ber of gal­lons used comes to a lesser price than pur­chased ini­tially.

A reader some time ago sug­gested a for­mula that of­ten works south of the bor­der.

It is based on en­ter­ing the three num­bers of your postal code in or­der, then adding two ze­ros at the end. For ex­am­ple, my busi­ness postal code is R3L0L6. So the num­bers I would en­ter af­ter swip­ing my credit card would be 30600. Does it still work? It cer­tainly does in Texas where I used it a cou­ple of weeks ago. I made gaso­line pur­chases at two dif­fer­ent brand out­lets, and they both worked fine.

I have no idea why it works, or even if it will work in ev­ery state or brand. But from the con­tin­ued feed­back I get from grate­ful read­ers, it does seem to be an ef­fec­tive means for a speed­ier fill-up in most states.

Ques­tion: When we were on a flight to Cuba this win­ter, we met peo­ple who were rent­ing homes from lo­cal own­ers for their hol­i­days.

I had never heard of this. Is it pos­si­ble to do that around the re­sort ar­eas of Cuba, and what is the qual­ity of ac­com­mo­da­tion?

An­swer: There may be a bit of a buyer-be­ware over­tone to the qual­ity of the var­i­ous home or apart­ment op­tions, but the avail­abil­ity is def­i­nitely there. How­ever, most of them are in or around Ha­vana.

I have met a num­ber of peo­ple who have ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with the homes they have rented, usu­ally for pe­ri­ods of a month or more.

Airhub, one of the larger home and apart­ment rental ser­vices, lists about 250 prop­er­ties around the is­land. The prices are very at­trac­tive, as are the pho­to­graphs of the res­i­dences.

How­ever, I have learned from ex­pe­ri­ence a good pho­tog­ra­pher can cre­ate a much bet­ter im­pres­sion than the prop­erty de­serves. Ref­er­ences will help en­sure the buyer is not snared into a prob­lem.

I do be­lieve the num­bers of th­ese units will grow with each pass­ing year.

It should be noted the usual ameni­ties avail­able at re­sorts, such as In­ter­net, qual­ity tele­vi­sion, or smoothrun­ning ap­pli­ances, may not be avail­able in all of the rental homes at this stage in time.

Ques­tion: We would like to take our next trip to the U.K. There are a cou­ple of es­corted tours that look great. What we need to de­cide is whether it would be bet­ter for us to take one trip of a longer du­ra­tion (Eng­land, Wales, Ire­land and Scot­land) or break th­ese into two or per­haps three shorter trips. Any ad­vice on this? Much ap­pre­ci­ated. (60 year old re­tired cou­ple).

An­swer: The an­swer to your ques­tion is not easy be­cause it re­lates to your en­ergy, health, and to some de­gree your de­sire to tour the rest of the world.

I love the coun­tries of Great Bri­tain and find I can never see them enough.

I have spent time in each of the coun­tries you men­tion. Eng­land and Scot­land alone are wor­thy of mul­ti­ple trips, short and long. There is so much his­tory to take in and truly two dif­fer­ent cul­tures (or more) to ex­pe­ri­ence.

While the his­tory of Wales and Ire­land are equally deep, the beauty of the land­scape and a to­tally dif­fer­ent peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence can also be worth a trip of its own.

Each trav­eller is dif­fer­ent, but I fre­quently rec­om­mend ex­tra time also be spent at the first and last points of the tour, whether they are the same or dif­fer­ent. This au­to­mat­i­cally extends the days ‘on the road’.

If you feel you can han­dle a longer trip with­out be­ing too tired, I would go for one of longer du­ra­tion.

Of­ten a huge part of the cost is the air trans­porta­tion in get­ting there and back, which is ob­vi­ously cut in half on one sin­gle, longer trip. As well, the mul­ti­ple-week trips usu­ally have builtin sav­ings be­cause of some economies of scale for the tour op­er­a­tor.

Ques­tion: Given the weak­ness of the Canadian dollar against U.S. cur­rency, is a Euro­pean va­ca­tion likely to be a bet­ter value this year?

An­swer: While the euro has plunged against the Amer­i­can dollar as well, the re­al­ity is, that for us, the con­ver­sion will not ben­e­fit that much.

As the euro has suf­fered, it is against the U.S. green­back and not so much against the Canadian dollar.

Amer­i­cans should be mo­ti­vated to travel over­seas this year, or to Canada for that mat­ter, be­cause they are the ones whose va­ca­tions will end up seem­ing value driven be­cause of the U.S. dollar strength.

But I would not be de­terred from go­ing to Europe this year since the buy­ing power be­tween the Canadian dollar and euro is still at­trac­tive.

SETH PERL­MAN / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A mo­torist puts fuel in his car’s gas tank at a ser­vice sta­tion in Spring­field, Ill.

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