Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More Banks Waiving the Currency Exchange Fees on Credit Cards, Plus A Bevy of Air Sales

Ron Lieber of the New York Times broke the news last Friday that a number of banks have decided to get into the ring with BankOne, formerly the only major credit card issuer that charged no foreign exchange fees. Chase will now be waiving the fee on its cards that are co-branded with British Airways, Hyatt and Intercontinental Hotels. Citigroup will follow suit with its new "Thank You" cards. Not to be left behind, American Express will be nixing the fee for its Platinum and Centurion members.

Problem is, these are elite cards, all of which carry higher annual fees than the norm. So for most of us plebes, fee-less credit cards issued by credit unions and BankOne will likely continue to be the go-to solution. As will the option of using debit cards abroad (perhaps the new chip-and-pin ones recently rolled out by Travelex).

I'll be interviewing Lieber for our radio show tomorrow and will report here whether he has anymore advice on using plastic abroad.

Airfare Sales

Virgin America is expanding, having just put in an order for 60 new Airbuses. To celebrate, its throwing a sale on travel from Jan 31 into May 11. Some fares don't represent a real discount ($60 one-ways between LA and San Francisco), others hit the mark ($139 from LA to Cancun, Toronto or Boston). The sale ends at midnight tonight. Click on the link above for details. 

Vision Airlines: With the recession in full swing and gas prices on the rise Vision Airlines came into being November of 2010. Not the most auspicious time to start an airline, but I, for one, wish it luck. Its flies mostly from Destin, FL offering direct flights to Niagara Falls/Buffalo, Atlanta, Louisville, Knoxville, Louisville, Shreveport, all of the major Florida hubs and 10 other southern gateways. To get itself established, its offering flights for as little as $49 each way. Add $15 onto that fee, though, as that's the cost of the first checked bag on this new carrier. The sales are listed as being for a "limited time" but just how much time that is isn't specified.

bmiBaby: For those flying within Europe, the most notable current sale may be the one being launched by this upstart. Not only are prices significantly lower than usual, they'll be waiving their baggage fees for luggage of up to 22kg. In my quick search of the site, I found flights from Manchester in the UK to Geneva, Switzerland or Cardiff, Wales to Malaga, Spain for as little as 12 GBP. The airline will be adding Verona and Ibiza to its line-up in 2011.

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