DOC’S TIP

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

MY WIFE and are booked to fly busi­ness class Brisbane to Barcelona via Sin­ga­pore and Zurich, and re­turn Porto to Brisbane via Frank­furt and Bangkok. We will fly with Qan­tas and Swis­sair, then re­turn with Lufthansa and Thai. My ques­tion is about our lug­gage. Will it be booked all the way through or will we have to recheck it in Sin­ga­pore and Bangkok? Doc:

Qan­tas have what is called an “in­ter­line” agree­ment with Swis­sair, mean­ing they work to­gether on cer­tain things in­clud­ing your fare and bag­gage. Your bag­gage will be checked right through to your des­ti­na­tion.

For your re­turn, Lufthansa and Thai Air­ways are both part of the Star Al­liance pro­gram, which again means they work to­gether with “through check­ing bag­gage”.

As long as you are not com­ing via Sydney or Mel­bourne on your re­turn and are trav­el­ling direct Bangkok to Brisbane, your bag­gage will be through checked. If you did hap­pen to be com­ing home via an­other port then trav­el­ling do­mes­ti­cally to Brisbane, you would need to claim your bags there and clear cus­toms be­fore pro­ceed­ing to your do­mes­tic flight.

As a tip, I al­ways ask the ques­tion as I’m check­ing in. This guar­an­tees the check-in agent is see­ing the whole book­ing in their sys­tem and knows to through check my bag.

Some­times if the reser­va­tions are on two sep­a­rate book­ings this will not show, so you must no­tify them. As a fi­nal dou­ble-check, I al­ways take note of the bag­gage tag they place on my bag and the des­ti­na­tion printed on it.

AN EMAIL from Emi­rates Air­lines has alerted me that some of my fre­quent flyer points are due to ex­pire soon. What about Qan­tas? Do they ex­pire also and how do I check so I don’t miss out on us­ing them? Doc:

Most fre­quent flyer points will even­tu­ally ex­pire af­ter a cer­tain amount of in­ac­tiv­ity on the ac­count. Some take years for this to hap­pen, oth­ers have quite short time pe­ri­ods.

Your Qan­tas points will not ex­pire as long as you con­tinue to ei­ther use them or earn them at least once ev­ery 18 months. This in­cludes earn­ing or us­ing them through pro­gram part­ners.

This does not ap­ply to points earned be­fore June 2010. Any points you may have had in your ac­count be­fore this date will au­to­mat­i­cally ex­pire if and when there has been no ac­tiv­ity for three years. Fam­ily trans­fers will not be con­sid­ered as ac­count ac­tiv­ity.

If you’re not a fre­quent trav­eller but have man­aged to ac­cu­mu­late a stash of points you’re saving for a rainy ainy day, it is im­por­tant to look for al­ter­na­tive ways of keep­ingg your ac­count ac­tive.

Link­ing your credit card is one op­tion – this way each spend will also ac­crue points – and most banks of­fer this fa­cil­ity. When you shop, stores in­clud­ing Ap­ple, David Jones es and some on­line com­pa­nies of­fer points. Hir­ing a car, book­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion plus din­ing out at a restau­rant also can.

Some other point-earn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties you may not be aware of are movie tick­ets, park­ing, for­eign ex­change, power bills, health in­sur­ance and the Qan­tas Golf Club.

Head to qan­tas.com.au for a full list of par­tic­i­pat­ing com­pa­nies. Use the me­ter when in a taxi for the

cor­rect rate.

WE ARE about to travel over the Christ­mas hol­i­day break. What’s the best way to take our spend­ing money th­ese days? Doc:

As we head into the busiest time of the year for trav­ellers, fi­nan­cial ad­vice com­pany Mozo (mozo.com.au) has put to­gether a guide to travel cards and who they re­gard as pro­vid­ing the best deal at the mo­ment. This will help you avoid high fees and a sad bank ac­count on your re­turn.

For pre­paid travel cards they pre­fer th­ese three: NAB Trav­eller Card – no over­seas ATM fees, load up to 10 cur­ren­cies, a 1 per cent reload fee; Ve­loc­ity Fre­quent Flyer Global Wal­let – no pur­chase fee, no for­eign ex­change fee, load up to 10 cur­ren­cies, no reload fee; Qan­tas Fre­quent Flyer Qan­tas Card with Qan­tas Cash – no pur­chase fee, no for­eign ex­change fee and no reload fee.

Fee-free travel credit cards: Bankwest Zero Plat­inum – no for­eign ex­change fee, no an­nual fee, com­pli­men­tary travel in­sur­ance and concierge, 17.99 per cent stan­dard in­ter­est rate with 55 in­ter­est free days; 28 De­grees Master­Card – no for­eign ex­change fee, no an­nual fee, 20.99 per cent stan­dard in­ter­est rate with 55 in­ter­est free days.

Zero per cent credit cards: NAB Pre­mium Card – zero per cent pur­chase rate for 15 months, re­verts to 19.74 per cent and $90 an­nual fee, concierge, com­plim com­pli­men­tary in­sur­ance in­clu in­clud­ing travel in­sur­ance; Co Coles No An­nual Fee, Low R Rate and Re­wards Master­Card – zero per cent pur­chase rate for 1 15 months.

Their top two rew re­wards-earn­ing credit cards cards: ANZ Re­wards Plat­inum – three un­capped points for ev­ery $A1 spent on AMEX and 1.5 points for ev­ery $A1 spent on Visa, plus 50,000 bonus points when you spend $5000 on el­i­gi­ble pur­chases within the first three months; NAB Qan­tas Re­wards Pre­mium Card – 1.5 Qan­tas points for ev­ery $A1 spent on AMEX and 0.5 points for ev­ery $A1 spent on Visa up to $50,000 a month, 60,000 bonus Qan­tas points when you spend $1500 on el­i­gi­ble pur­chases in the first three months.

For debit cards, the Citibank Plus Visa debit has no over­seas ATM fees and no for­eign ex­change fee on pur­chases or with­drawals; RAMS Ac­tion Ac­count – Visa debit, $A5 over­seas ATM fees, $A1.75 over­seas pur­chase fee and no for­eign ex­change mar­gin.

Here are a couple of tips for man­ag­ing your money while you are trav­el­ling. If your card does at­tract with­drawal fees, take out enough each time to make it worth it. Use a credit card for ho­tel and cruise se­cu­rity bonds then pay with your debit card to keep your funds ac­ces­si­ble.

Have a back-up card in case of loss or theft. Pay in lo­cal cur­rency for a bet­ter ex­change rate. Don’t use your credit card to with­draw cash be­cause you will be charged a high cash ad­vance fee. Keep your eye on in­ter­est-free terms as when the of­fer ex­pires, they usu­ally re­vert to high in­ter­est rates.

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