Search found 77 matches

by mageedge
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Making Winter Camping more comfortable
Replies: 39
Views: 2751

Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

We take the Scrabble set for camping evenings and also, perhaps more practical for a solo camper, we recently added a tablet to the camping gear. Download shows ahead of the trip and watch without internet at the campsite. Earphones ensure we don't annoy others. We've also added a powerbank and fold...
by mageedge
Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:09 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?
Replies: 3112
Views: 605171

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

What is/are the main benefit(s) of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card ($450/yr with $300 reimbursement) versus what I have, the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95/yr with no reimbursement). Major difference - CSR 3 points for travel/restaurants vs. 2 points for CSP. 50% bonus on UR travel for CSR vs. 25% f...
by mageedge
Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:36 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Tax form filing for CA -- advice needed
Replies: 4
Views: 611

Re: Tax form filing for CA -- advice needed

+1 on needing some expert tax advice. Additional general comment - California is one of the more aggressive income tax collecting states and, generally, you should expect to be taxed on income regardless of geographic sourcing.
by mageedge
Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:15 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Cost of Living between NYC and U.K.?
Replies: 16
Views: 1732

Re: Cost of Living between NYC and U.K.?

$125k/year is £98k/year at today's rate. The 45% tax bracket starts at £150k, so $125k is nowhere near that rate. Deductions on £98k might be around £27.5k tax and around £5.5k NI for 2018/19, leaving a shade under £65k (approx $83k) of disposable income. As a US citizen living in the UK, you would...
by mageedge
Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:50 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Barclay Card with American Airlines
Replies: 16
Views: 1229

Re: Barclay Card with American Airlines

Assuming this is the AA Aviator Red card from Barclays then it does, indeed, have chip and pin capability. It is a "signature preferring" card which means you'll need to sign if you're dealing with a person however, it has a fall back PIN option for use on unattended ticket machines/gas pumps. You'l...
by mageedge
Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:20 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Coldness Pismo beach water
Replies: 24
Views: 1834

Re: Coldness Pismo beach water

We live locally and would take our kids, at that age, to Cayucos pier for boogie boarding. Safe and fun but the water is still cold - kids didn't seem to notice it much but tended to look a little blue if they stayed in too long! In addition to what other contributors have mentioned - Avila Beach is...
by mageedge
Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Travel Laptop Computer Recommendation
Replies: 12
Views: 987

Re: Travel Laptop Computer Recommendation

+1 for a chromebook for your specified travel purposes - 11.6 inch size weighs in around 2.5 lbs and you can get a 4gb memory version for less than $200. I am very satisfied with my Acer but there are numerous other manufacturer options on the market. I tried a small windows Asus with the 32gb emmc ...
by mageedge
Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:45 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: EMV Chip + Pin priority credit cards available in the USA?
Replies: 11
Views: 704

Re: EMV Chip + Pin credit cards available in the USA

Your requirement for "pin priority" does eliminate all other options however I use one of the Barclay cards in Europe as my PIN card when necessary and I have to say I have never come across the situation of a manned station (merchant) that would not accept the signature option. I do make sure I kn...
by mageedge
Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:51 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: EMV Chip + Pin priority credit cards available in the USA?
Replies: 11
Views: 704

Re: EMV Chip + Pin credit cards available in the USA

Your requirement for "pin priority" does eliminate all other options however I use one of the Barclay cards in Europe as my PIN card when necessary and I have to say I have never come across the situation of a manned station (merchant) that would not accept the signature option. I do make sure I kno...
by mageedge
Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:31 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which minivan?
Replies: 56
Views: 6105

Re: Which minivan?

I would add the Chrysler Pacifica to your short list and remove the Sienna . The Pacifica has been winning most minivan comparison tests, though probably won't be quite as reliable as the Honda. The Sienna is outdated. Of note, there's a steady supply of Pacificas coming in from rental car fleets. ...
by mageedge
Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:21 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Europe travel Qs [Questions]
Replies: 63
Views: 3925

Re: Europe travel Qs

Going shortly on a leisure trip with our family of 5, to France (Paris and Strasbourg) and Germany (Munich), with possible side-trip to Salzburg, Austria. First time to Europe for me in many years. Qs: 1) Cash - Will probably take at least 2 different Visa credit cards. I figure we'll want some pap...
by mageedge
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:15 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: WiFi router
Replies: 46
Views: 4333

Re: WiFi router

After looking at the responses and available options, it looks like I have three general options. 1. Buy a good single router and hope for the best. (Netgear Nighthawk ~$150) 2. Buy a cheaper router to save money and see what happens. (Multiple options <$100) 3. Buy a mesh system. (Tenda Nova MW6 3...
by mageedge
Wed Jul 04, 2018 11:32 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: SS taken at 62 vs. 70, but measured from 70+
Replies: 189
Views: 12352

Re: SS taken at 62 vs. 70, but measured from 70+

As others have noted the decision should depend on your individual circumstances and, perhaps, in the immortal words of Linkin Park "it the end it doesn't even matter.." Which is the Social Security actuarial concept. I went through a similar calculation to the OP a few years ago and decided to dela...
by mageedge
Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?
Replies: 3112
Views: 605171

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

It looks like Chase has put new restrictions on UR point transfers between cards. I was not able to transfer between Freedom and Sapphire Reserve today - something I have done numerous times in the past. The blogs carried a rumor to this effect a couple of months ago - just took Chase a while to im...
by mageedge
Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:16 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?
Replies: 3112
Views: 605171

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

It looks like Chase has put new restrictions on UR point transfers between cards. I was not able to transfer between Freedom and Sapphire Reserve today - something I have done numerous times in the past. The blogs carried a rumor to this effect a couple of months ago - just took Chase a while to imp...
by mageedge
Sat May 12, 2018 8:52 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Bank of America/Merrill Edge - Preferred Rewards
Replies: 469
Views: 105067

Re: Bank of America/Merrill Edge - Preferred Rewards

-their cash card (the red one) has a signup bonus that gets the 75% boost, but the travel and the premium card signup bonuses do not get the boost. I am not sure if this is true. I believe the travel card does get the 75% boost if you are a Preferred Rewards Platinum. Can someone verify that? Sorry...
by mageedge
Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:32 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Credit Card for International Travel
Replies: 67
Views: 6474

Re: Credit Card for International Travel

Barclays recently introduced the Uber credit card which may meet your stated needs very well. It's a Visa card and, in addition to the no fee criteria, it also offers chip and pin capability which can be important at unmanned kiosks/gas pumps in Europe (and elsewhere). It's a cash back card which of...
by mageedge
Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:23 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Visitor to us needs SIM card for 2 weeks
Replies: 9
Views: 1048

Re: Visitor to us needs SIM card for 2 weeks

The cheapest option would be to get a Freedompop SIM. Their LTE sims use the ATT network. You can usually find a 99 cents +free shipping deal online or purchase at Bestbuy. The first month generally includes a "trail" period of one of their paid plans and you can go through the process of downgradin...
by mageedge
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:04 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Best cash back card right NOW.
Replies: 34
Views: 4981

Re: Best cash back card right NOW.

Combination of Fidelity with 2% cashback on everything with no fee + AMEX Blue Preferred with 6% on groceries, 3% on gas, 1% on everything else ($95 fee) works for me. Obviously I only use the AMEX for gas and groceries, the Visa for everything else (and I do mean EVERYTHING including bills that wi...
by mageedge
Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:02 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Best credit card for earning free airfare?
Replies: 12
Views: 2743

Re: Best credit card for earning free airfare?

I'd agree with others that the Chase UR "trifecta" (the 3 cards mentioned) would be the bet play for you assuming you have room under the 5/24 rule. In addition don't forget that your partner (in the same household) can transfer UR points with you so he/she can get some cards to enhance your joint e...
by mageedge
Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:48 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cargo Vans- suggestions
Replies: 10
Views: 1118

Re: Cargo Vans- suggestions

We just went through a similar analysis looking for a vehicle that I could make into a "sleeper van" for camping trips for the two of us. Looked at all the vans mentioned so far plus some and eventually settled on a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan for $24k with 8k miles on it. 7 passenger but I expec...
by mageedge
Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:19 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: London Hotels
Replies: 59
Views: 4762

Re: London Hotels

As curmudgeon noted Gatwick train is usually to Victoria. Ryanair is probably Stanstead, possibly Luton. Stanstead has a direct train from Liverpool St. Station. Luton Airport is direct from Blackfriars or City Thameslink (with a c.10 minute shuttle bus to the actual airport), Not many rental pickin...
by mageedge
Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:01 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: London Hotels
Replies: 59
Views: 4762

Re: London Hotels

Let us know if you're arriving and/or leaving via Heathrow (or somewhere else) - that'll determine the best plan for you with just 3 nights. For example if you're using Heathrow then I'd echo the recommendation for a place in the South Kensington/Gloucester Road area. Easy, direct tube ride in from ...
by mageedge
Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:43 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Samsung Chromebook vs Tablet for Travel?
Replies: 15
Views: 1675

Re: Samsung Chromebook vs Tablet for Travel?

I have both and find the Chromebook is my "go to" for travel - and at home for quick "googling" of something. I think it's really a personal preference matter. I prefer the built in keyboard of the Chromebook. I find now that my perceived uses for the tablet (ereader/music player/snapshot camera) ar...
by mageedge
Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:38 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: New Zealand - Bucket list trip
Replies: 34
Views: 3780

Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Excellent bucket list destinations - the 2 islands are very different experiences - both good! Here's a couple of ideas - On South island you might want to check out the train from Christchurch to Greymouth ("Transalpine") - one of the great train journeys. We did that and rented a car to meander ba...
by mageedge
Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Emergency Medevac - costs and options
Replies: 35
Views: 3708

Re: Emergency Medevac - costs and options

Of interest on this topic, Among its travel insurance benefits Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card provides up to $100k for medevac if needed.
by mageedge
Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Luggage/travel recommendations?
Replies: 54
Views: 4598

Re: Luggage/travel recommendations?

As you can tell from the replies already there are lots of options - you just have to experiment and decide what works best for you. On bags - I'd agree with others that you only need a garment bag if you have a specific need - business, or cruising perhaps. When on business travel I found a garment...
by mageedge
Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:19 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Chase sapphire reserve versus BOF premium rewards
Replies: 48
Views: 7183

Re: Chase sapphire reserve versus BOF premium rewards

I have both these cards and suggest the answer to your question is "It depends" ! The simple math - if you maximize travel credit - is that CSR annual fee is a net $155 more. To offset that at the 3.5 vs. 4.5% difference means spending more than $15,500 on travel/restaurants. In addition the Premiu...
by mageedge
Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:28 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Chase sapphire reserve versus BOF premium rewards
Replies: 48
Views: 7183

Re: Chase sapphire reserve versus BOF premium rewards

I have both these cards and suggest the answer to your question is "It depends" ! The simple math - if you maximize travel credit - is that CSR annual fee is a net $155 more. To offset that at the 3.5 vs. 4.5% difference means spending more than $15,500 on travel/restaurants. In addition the Premiu...
by mageedge
Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:37 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Chase sapphire reserve versus BOF premium rewards
Replies: 48
Views: 7183

Re: Chase sapphire reserve versus BOF premium rewards

I have both these cards and suggest the answer to your question is "It depends" ! The simple math - if you maximize travel credit - is that CSR annual fee is a net $155 more. To offset that at the 3.5 vs. 4.5% difference means spending more than $15,500 on travel/restaurants. In addition the Premium...
by mageedge
Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:07 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Rome-Florence-Venice-Prague summer vacation
Replies: 54
Views: 3763

Re: Rome-Florence-Venice-Prague summer vacation

Some great advice already. I'd echo the comments on using no foreign transaction fee cc and ATM card, avoid carrying large amount of cash and be aware of pickpockets, who are particularly active on the Rome metro. Local SIM will be the cheapest cell phone option unless you can get a Freedompop Globa...
by mageedge
Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:27 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Signed up for American Express - "Premium" car rental insurance
Replies: 46
Views: 7137

Re: Signed up for American Express - "Premium" car rental insurance

Personal experience - FWIW - I've had 3 car rental claims over the years, none involved collisions, no police reports filed. Chase coverage on 2, can't remember which card I used for the third. All handled and covered by the credit card adjusters. 1) Flying stone - presumably kicked up preceding veh...
by mageedge
Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:34 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Driving a rental car in Western Europe
Replies: 46
Views: 2107

Re: Driving a rental car in Western Europe

Your idea of mixing flights/trains and rental cars, I think, is the best. We did a similar trip last Fall and my suggestion, based on your noted cities, would be - Fly into Frankfurt and rent a car. Drive up to Bacharach then meander down through Bavaria to the Tyrolean Alps. Then back up to Munich....
by mageedge
Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: London/Paris Trip Questions
Replies: 41
Views: 2463

Re: London/Paris Trip Questions

A couple of additional thoughts to add to the useful feedback you've already received - You didn't specify your flight plans but, if you weren't already looking, I'd suggest a flight into London and out of Paris -this will save money vs. leaving from London (which incurs high departure fees). You sh...
by mageedge
Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:04 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amex Plat "contactless card" ? Also "Chip & PIN"?
Replies: 22
Views: 2519

Re: Amex Plat "contactless card" ? Also "Chip & PIN"?

Yes it's a "signature first" card with PIN as a default for those unattended kiosks, I think that is the standard Barclaycard setup. I've had similar experience with CSR at a metro ticket machine. I believe some cards (all cards?) have a $ amount below which no verification is required hence neither...
by mageedge
Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:26 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Amex Plat "contactless card" ? Also "Chip & PIN"?
Replies: 22
Views: 2519

Re: Amex Plat "contactless card" ? Also "Chip & PIN"?

I agree with the recommendation to take a look at getting a Barclaycard which has chip and pin "back-up". We've traveled to Europe frequently and rarely have an issue with signature cards however there have been some occasions - train kiosks and unattended gas pumps - where we needed chip and pin ca...
by mageedge
Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:21 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Where to stay - Venice & Rome
Replies: 21
Views: 1684

Re: Where to stay - Venice & Rome

For Venice I agree with the comment that staying in city is better than a place in Mestre on the mainland side of the causeway, although there are less costly options in the Mestre area. That said there are many options on the islands themselves. Visited in October, we were very happy with the air b...
by mageedge
Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:34 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Signature-only card at unattended kiosks overseas?
Replies: 13
Views: 1313

Re: Signature-only card at unattended kiosks overseas?

2 weeks ago I used Bank of America Travel Rewards card at a vaporetto (boat bus) kiosk in Venice, Italy. At the prompt I put in my cash advance PIN which was accepted. The transaction was recorded as a regular credit event by BOA, no cash transaction fees. A week later the same card and PIN was decl...
by mageedge
Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:27 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: No true pay as you go [cellphone plan]
Replies: 63
Views: 6868

Re: No true pay as you go [cellphone plan]

miketheboglehead: FreedomPop may be a good option for you. based on you usage needs, their free plan may even be a good fit. They charge a one time $30 activation fee. ==================== I'd echo the suggestion that you take a look at Freedompop based on your needs. They are offering the LTE Sim ...
by mageedge
Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:26 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: No true pay as you go [cellphone plan]
Replies: 63
Views: 6868

Re: No true pay as you go [cellphone plan]

I'd echo the suggestion that you take a look at Freedompop based on your needs. They are offering the LTE Sim for 99 cents right now, works on ATT or Tmobile (depending on signal strength). Free plan offers 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200mb which you can boost to 700mb per month using the "friends" o...
by mageedge
Thu Oct 26, 2017 11:20 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Trip in May: Starting in Munich, Ending in Interlaken - Where to go in between?
Replies: 27
Views: 2239

Re: Trip in May: Starting in Munich, Ending in Interlaken - Where to go in between?

I'm writing this at the end of 5 weeks meandering around the same area you are visiting. Lots of good suggestions so far and, thinking of your plan to stick with public transport, I'd suggest 2 nights at Garmisch and then 2 nights at Innsbruk. It looks like direct train or (quicker) bus from Munich ...
by mageedge
Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:50 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Which BoA Credit Card to use?
Replies: 24
Views: 2464

Re: Which BoA Credit Card to use?

IF you are actually spending $120k p.a. on the card and want to use just one of those 2 cards then the Travel Rewards will give you a better deal - 2.625% vs. 1.75% on all but $10k (max cash rewards bonus spend) of your expenditure. That assumes you spend c.$3k p.a. on travel reimbursables.
by mageedge
Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:53 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Air Serbia Business Class and FRA Lounge?
Replies: 8
Views: 678

Re: Air Serbia Business Class and FRA Lounge?

You might also consider the s-bahn in the opposite direction to Mainz - only about 5 minutes longer of a trip - with a pleasant old town walking area.
by mageedge
Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:09 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Air Serbia Business Class and FRA Lounge?
Replies: 8
Views: 678

Re: Air Serbia Business Class and FRA Lounge?

Looks like you'll be flying an airbus with pretty standard 30" seat pitch in Economy - I wouldn't view it as worth the $180 extra for a 2 hour haul although , at a long-legged 6 foot plus, I would try to get exit row seats! I see that FRA Sky lounge is a Priority Pass lounge if you have one of the p...
by mageedge
Wed Aug 23, 2017 4:52 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 3% credit card fee vs wiring from B of A
Replies: 18
Views: 1550

Re: 3% credit card fee vs wiring from B of A

Be careful to avoid Paypal currency conversion. I believe Paypal defaults to your "home currency" (in this case US $'s)and uses its own form of dynamic currency conversion - usually at a disadvantageous rate. So while the credit card exchange rate may be around $1.28 per pound, Paypal will throw in ...
by mageedge
Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:32 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: 3% credit card fee vs wiring from B of A
Replies: 18
Views: 1550

Re: 3% credit card fee vs wiring from B of A

Just a quick note - 2 of the cards you mention - Chase Sapphire Preferred and BoA Alaska card - do not charge foreign transaction fees. Credit card generally will also give you a better exchange rate than wiring from bank. I am going to book a tour. I need to pay 660 GBP for a deposit and than withi...
by mageedge
Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:09 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cheap notebook for surfing/watching videos
Replies: 18
Views: 2027

Re: Cheap notebook for surfing/watching videos

iPad is still the best bet for seniors. Apple has always built their hardware around an intuitive UI. Chromebooks will be a huge headache for the non-techy person as soon as they run into some incompatibility issue. iPads are more expensive for sure, but worth it for fewer headaches. My 82-year-old...
by mageedge
Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:14 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Ally debit card for ATM withdrawals outside the United States
Replies: 25
Views: 7042

Re: Ally debit card for ATM withdrawals outside the United States

Fidelity cash management is the best. I think there is similar product from Schwab. I'd agree this is one of the best no annual fee cash back cards (at 2%) however it does charge a 1% foreign transaction fee so there are better options for purely overseas use. But, if you want the simplicity of a s...
by mageedge
Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:51 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Ally debit card for ATM withdrawals outside the United States
Replies: 25
Views: 7042

Re: Ally debit card for ATM withdrawals outside the United States

We were in India in December and used both Schwab and Ally ATM cards. At the time ATM withdrawals were limited to 2000 rupees a day (c.$33) and so I used both cards together when we found an available ATM. Did this on around 10 separate occasions. Our experience was that the exchange rate on the wi...
by mageedge
Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:43 am
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Ally debit card for ATM withdrawals outside the United States
Replies: 25
Views: 7042

Re: Ally debit card for ATM withdrawals outside the United States

We were in India in December and used both Schwab and Ally ATM cards. At the time ATM withdrawals were limited to 2000 rupees a day (c.$33) and so I used both cards together when we found an available ATM. Did this on around 10 separate occasions. Our experience was that the exchange rate on the wi...