India is emerging as a Popular Destination for Globetrotters

India is considered the most attractive market by international investors, says a survey published by Business Standard in 2015. With 32% of the respondents on the survey ranking India as the most attractive market, the country has proven to be a premier choice for investors worldwide.

Due to recently launched initiatives like ‘Startup India’ and ‘Digital India’, the country is now being viewed increasingly as a destination for innovation and digital transformation.  

Growing Tourism in India

Not only for business, India is also a popular destination for British holidaymakers. According to an article published by The Telegraph, every year, 800,000 Brits travel to the world’s second most populous country. India’s most cosmopolitan city, Mumbai, receives 18% of all arrivals, whereas 45% of all e-visa tourists prefer landing at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and then head to other popular destinations like Agra and Rajasthan.

According to an expert at Cruxton , cheap first class flights tickets to Mumbai & Delhi are a great way to experience yoga, meditation and Ayurveda, all of which are popular among tourists seeking serenity and spiritual

The rapidly growing tourism industry of India is economically important for the overall economy. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, tourism generated INR 6.4 trillion or 6.6% of the nation’s GDP in 2012. Not only that, the tourism industry in India supports 39.5 million jobs, accounting for 7.7% of the total employment in the country. It is also predicted that the sector will grow at an average annual rate of 7.9% from 2013 to 2023. 

Taking Advantage of Air Travel  

As mentioned earlier, tourism is vital for the economic prosperity of many nations. Needless to say, an increase in air connectivity spurs tourism. It is the sound air networks that attract many tourists to a country, giving them peace of mind that they will find easy connectivity to all destinations within that nation. This also helps enhance links between businesses by providing better access to markets. As a result, the economy grows, such that the country is able to provide better facilities to its visitors.


According to data released by the UK’s OAG Aviation Worldwide Ltd, an air travel intelligence company, with around 130 flights every day and a total of 47,462 scheduled airline flights in 2017, operating between India’s political capital and its commercial capital, the Mumbai-New Delhi route ranked third among the busiest air routes in the world, after South Korea’s Seoul Gimpo-Jeju route, with 64,991 flights, and Australia’s Melbourne-Sydney route, with 54,519 flights in 2017, according to an article on Business Today, published on January 11, 2018.

Millions of passengers from across the globe, including the UK, are booking first class flights to travel to Mumbai & Delhi, the gateways to all major tourist spots in India.

If you too are planning a trip to India, take advantage of the affordable first class flight tickets and cheap accommodation.

Booking an Airport Shuttle in San Juan? Some Practical Tips

Believe it or not, at about 4,300 vehicles per paved roadway mile, San Juan is among the cities with the highest vehicle density in the world! Therefore, irrespective of the time of day you choose for travel, the roads are likely to be crowded. You will also need a dependable San Juan airport shuttle service, booked in advance.


VIP Limo Puerto Rico, a trusted airport taxi service providing Puerto Rico airport transfers, reiterates that engaging experienced and trained chauffeurs becomes extremely important in this city, owing to the heavy traffic congestion and busy streets. We look at some more factors that you need to keep in mind when booking a taxi service as airport shuttle.


Booking an Airport Shuttle Judiciously


  • Always Choose a 24-Hour Service: Remember, there is nothing you can do to control the arrival time of your flight. With heavy air traffic for most parts of the day across major airports, delayed arrivals have become more common than ever. You would not wish to book a taxi service in Puerto Rico that operates only till 9 PM and arrive at 10 PM, after having braved multiple delays. Engaging a shuttle that ensures availability of vehicles round the clock is the safest bet.


  • Ensure They Drop You at Your Desired Destination: If you have booked a cab for an airport drop-off, it is wise to call up the company and check if they will drop you right up to your desired terminal. It may so happen that your taxi goes only up to the outskirts of the airport and your flight departs from the farthest terminal. Having to walk across with luggage in tow can prove to be utterly distressful.


  • Make Room for Luxury: It is always wise to pick a luxurious ride, especially if you are getting off a long, tiring flight. Being greeted by a professional chauffeur at the airport only to be led to a comfortable ride can be one of the best ways to pamper yourself and relax your body. Limousines offer the best city rides, with complete comfort, on-board refreshments and entertainment on the go. You can enjoy the ride as you sip on your preferred beverage. Also, if you are heading to an important business meeting right from the airport, this ride can actually offer that much needed breather, helping you to concentrate better after a long flight.


  • Keep Luggage in Mind: Always keep the volume of luggage in mind when choosing your vehicle type for taxi services in Puerto Rico. Booking a small car for price advantages may seem wise. However, having to travel in a cabin that is cramped up with your luggage is nothing short of irritating! Take a realistic pick for comfort and convenience.


It is also important to check on the reputation of the taxi service before you choose. They should be responsible enough to stick to timelines. Also check the quality of fleet. The vehicles should be clean, comfortable and properly serviced.

Does It Make Sense To Own A Car In Canada?

Readers of this website will already be aware of the fact that a car is not an asset, but a liability. The value of your car starts depreciating the moment you drive it out of the showroom. But given the convenience and independence that a car provides, there is no way to objectively look at vehicle ownership as a financial decision.

But car ownership is not necessarily a sign of convenience in a country like Canada where nearly 85% of the population live in urban and metropolitan areas. Just three cities – Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver house nearly a third of all Canadians. Given the level of urbanization in the country, services like Uber could be a great commutation alternative to owning your own car.

Let us do the math. On an average, Canadians travel nearly 17 kilometers to and from work and spent around 26 minutes each way. A Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) study claims that the average midsize car in a state like Ontario costs about $0.54. Driving 25 days a month works out to around $5500 a year. Add to this the $1458 spent annually on auto-insurance premium in Ontario and the annual costs work out to nearly $7000. If you own a $35,000 car, the loan repayment alone would add up another $5000 annually. In comparison, hiring an UberX in Toronto will cost around $23 one way. That’s $14,000 a year.

At the outset, hiring an Uber may seem like a more expensive option. However it also needs to be pointed out that being driven around from home to your workplace also frees up your time which can add to your productivity. Overall, Uber might work out cheaper for the average commuter.

But this is not always true. The cost of hiring an Uber may work out more expensive if you travel longer distances or work for more than 25 days in a month. At the same time, owning a car can be cheaper if you buy a used car, or share your ride with fellow commuters from your suburb to the city.

There are other issues with relying entirely on a third party service to drive you around the city. Just in the past two months, Uber first announced its decision to pull out from Quebec only to backtrack on the decision a few weeks later. As a commuter, this brings about a lot of uncertainty that could be altogether avoided by owning your own car.

There is also a third option which is making use of public transport. The major cities of Canada are extremely well-connected by public transit by roads and trains. The monthly cost of public transport can vary anywhere between $40 to $160 which is significantly lower than owning a car or hiring Uber. Not surprisingly, nearly a quarter of commuters across Canada make use of the bus and rail networks to get around to and from work.

In conclusion, buying a car is not always the best financial decision. Depending on your commuting patterns, it may be cheaper to use on-demand services. If you are located close to bus or rail networks, public transit may bring down the cost of travel significantly. Yet, there is no gainsaying the fact that car ownership does bring a certain level of independence and convenience which is not offered by any of the alternatives. If you are someone who would need such independence, car ownership makes sense. Otherwise, you are better off using public transport and Uber in the cities of Canada.

Frugal Wanderlust: How To See The World On A Budget

Frugal Wanderlust: How To See The World On A Budget
With summer on its way, you only have so many weeks left to save up for your holiday in the sun. If your last check-in with your savings revealed you’re far from your goal, don’t despair. Saving up all of your extra cash until your piggy bank is bursting with Benjamins isn’t the only way you’ll see the world this summer. By using the right tools at the right time, you can keep your costs low. Keep reading and find out the best ways to save on your next trip, so your unchecked desire to travel won’t put your finances at risk.

Don’t Pay Full Price For Your Flights

You can find a return flight from LaGuardia to Miami for under $100, but flights this cheap aren’t always available once you leave the good old US of A. If you plan on taking your trip overseas, the cost of air travel will eat up most of your budget. You can make sure it only takes a modest bite out of your fun money by using the travel app Hopper.

We’ve all heard the rumor that there’s a specific time when it’s best to buy your tickets. Rather than rely on hearsay passed down from your second cousin twice removed, Hopper sends you reliable notifications when the cheapest price is available for your preferred destination. It won a Google Play Award in 2016 for its ability to shave off up to 40% off of flights, so you know it’s legitimate.

Consider Taking The Couch

Next to flights, accommodations are one of the most expensive elements of any trip. You can eliminate this cost altogether if you’re willing to be a little brave and create a profile on Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is an online travel community that lets you connect with locals who are willing to offer you their couch or spare bedroom for free! It’s also a great way to make new friends with people who can give you a local’s look at your destination.

Use An App To Find Your Accommodations

Couchsurfing isn’t for everyone. It takes an extroverted personality who’s willing to take a chance on a stranger. If you’d rather have your own place without relying on a stranger’s good will, turn to your phone again to find the best prices on hotels, bed and breakfasts, or AirBnBs.

With AirBnB on your iPhone, you can rent an apartment in downtown Barcelona or a loft overlooking the canals in Amsterdam. The cost of these private apartments is usually much lower than the average hotel, and it’s like you’re actually living like a local with all of the privacy and convenience of your own home.

Though AirBnB is a secure and reliable way of finding a place to stay, there have been mix ups in the past that left travellers stranded and hosts furious. Hotel Tonight can save you if you ever find yourself in a position where you aren’t sure where to lay your head at night. Should your flight get delayed and you miss your reservation or your hostel ends up being above a bar without any noise insulation, tap open the Hotel Tonight app and it will connect you with a clean, quiet room in under 10 seconds. You also get a deal on these accommodations, since Hotel Tonight partners with local hotels that are willing to drop their prices in order to fill their remaining empty rooms.

Consider An Installment Loan

At the risk of sounding alarmist, problems with your accommodations aren’t the only things that can go wrong while on vacation. Though it’s the last thing you want to think about, it’s a good idea to consider some contingency plans. It’s why you signed up for traveller’s insurance, and why you should consider an installment loan to cover other emergencies that you didn’t budget for.

You could get slapped with a speeding ticket during your drive along the French countryside, or you could scrape the side of your rental car as you attempt to parallel park along narrow European streets — only after you declined the accidental damage insurance. Your AirBnB can fall through and you end up spending more on accommodations than you budgeted, even with the help of Hotel Tonight. There are a lot of reasons why your trip may get expensive. A personal cash advance can help you cover these unexpected hiccoughs.

While traditional lenders will require in-person meetings and lengthy review processes before they lend you the cash you need, CABs (or Credit Access Businesses) like MoneyKey require a simple online application that involves basic contact and financial information. Should you qualify and be approved, you can receive the money you need in as little as one business day. Their online installment loans also come with extended terms that won’t interrupt your fun abroad, as you can make payments over several weeks once you return home.

Don’t Exchange Money At The Airport Or Your Hotel

The US may have a strong dollar within the international context, but that doesn’t mean you should get lazy. If you hope to rely primarily on cash while you’re abroad, don’t exchange your USD to Euros with organizations that apply the highest fees for their services. We’re talking about the airport, foreign currency websites (yes, these services deliver your cash to your door), or mall kiosks. Most banks will offer a fair exchange with minimal fees, while ATMs both at home and at your destination offer a good alternative if you can’t make it to your branch before your flight.

Eat In As Much As Possible

The best part of travelling can be sampling the local cuisines, but eating out for every meal is a fast way to burn through your budget. Don’t waste your money on an overpriced sandwich or bowl of soup at the art gallery. Limit your gastronomic globetrotting to special meals at the restaurants you really want to visit. For everything else, hit up the local grocery and pack snacks for your sightseeing tour around the city.

A vacation abroad can be expensive at any time of the year, but summer is in its own category as the travel and tourism industry kicks into its busy season. If you expect to leave on a jet plane this summer, keep your costs low by using these cost-cutting tips. Let us know of any tricks you like to use, and share your favorite way to come under budget.

7 Easy Ways To Travel On A Budget Without Skipping The Fun

7 Easy Ways To Travel On A Budget Without Skipping The Fun

Traveling the world is an adventure nobody forgets. You get to meet new people, explore new cultures, and experience exotic foods you’d normally only consider eating on a dare.

If you’re traveling on a budget, but don’t want your financial requirements to cut into your explorations and entertainment, here are 7 ways you can keep more of your dollars without sacrificing any fun:

1. Explore countries that are more affordable

If you’re looking for premium hospitality without the high cost, Nepal is a great destination for you. The locals are extremely warm and welcoming, and you can get by with less than $10USD/day. In Nepal, you can experience beautiful wildlife, including Bengal tigers and sloth-bears, through safari adventures.

There are other countries that are affordable to travel to like Mexico, South Africa, Chile, and Puerto Rico.

2. Use promo codes as much as possible

Promo codes are the digital coupons of the internet and they are everywhere. Some codes will save you a lot of money or give you a BOGO deal, while others might only save you a few bucks. If you can’t find the really good codes, you should still use them, even if you only get $5 off. When you’re traveling, every dollar you can save adds up.

3. Check local hotels for entertainment

When you’re traveling, chances are there’s a luxury hotel nearby, and luxury hotels are known for their wonderful live entertainment. Popular acts like Cirque Du Soleil and the Blue Man Group perform at hotels all around the world.

4. Use connecting flights

Nobody likes connecting flights, but they can save you a ton of money. If you’re on a budget, you won’t miss out on any fun by using a connecting flight. It might add a few hours to your travel time, but if it saves you a couple hundred bucks and you can put that money toward more food and entertainment, it’s worth it.

Also, remember that airlines, hotels, and car rental companies are notorious for charging extra fees and it’s up to you to make the right choices to avoid those fees.

5. Book your car rentals the smart way

Car rentals almost never end up being the advertised daily or weekly price after all the fees, taxes, and insurance costs have been added. You’re also likely to pay double or more for your car rental when the pick-up and drop-off locations are different.

Whenever possible, plan for your car rental to be picked up and dropped off at the same location, even if it means rearranging your itinerary.

6. Avoid taxi cabs and use public transportation instead

If you’re visiting a tourist town, taxis will be always more expensive than what you’re used to in your home town. Cab companies know they can count on the income from tourists who don’t want to drive and don’t feel comfortable taking public transportation.

When it comes to saving money, there’s no better time to push through any social anxieties around using public transportation in a new city.

7. Use airline industry insider secrets

Thanks to the internet, airline professionals are spilling the beans about how to get better deals and not get sideswiped by unfair practices that aim to keep more of your money.

For example, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are noted as the cheapest days to fly (but not necessarily the cheapest days to buy). Also, when your bag is delayed, the airlines will try to placate you with $25 or $50 but according to insiders, they can owe you up to $3,300 if you can prove you needed the items in your bag.

If you experience a delay or a problem with your flight and it’s the airline’s fault, don’t be afraid to speak up. They could owe you money that you could use on your trip.

Budgeting doesn’t have to be boring

Traveling on a budget doesn’t have to mean planning a boring vacation or trip; it just means allocating your financial resources so you have the funds to cover the activities you want to experience while traveling.

Best Financial Security Tips For Travel

When you travel it is important to feel safe about your finances.  All sorts of things can go wrong on a trip so it is always best to keep your wits about you.  Instead of learning the hard way it is advantageous to take all the advice you can get before departing.

Make sure that you always follow the attitude, “better safe than sorry” and you will manage to avoid all sorts of problems.  It is important to enjoy your trip and not let fear consume you but it is also ideal to plan ahead and take precautions.  Here are some of the best tips for making sure your financial situation is safe during your trip.

Bring 2 Credit Cards

You should always travel with at least 2 credit cards.  This way you have your main source of money and a backup if anything goes wrong.  It is always good to have a backup because you never know if you could be a victim of theft, loss, or even something as wild as the ATM eating your card.

If you only have one credit card, consider bringing a pre-paid debit card.  This way you can still use it like a card and make payments online, but without any of the worries of interest or fees. This is a great option for people who are trying to build their credit.

Always Have Some Cash

You never know when you will need to take a cab or end up at a restaurant or store that accepts cash only.  This is a common occurrence in places outside of North America.  Many smaller businesses in humble countries prefer not to pay the cost that it takes in order to run a credit card machine so it is common to find that you will need cash.

Instead of carrying a large amount around with you, carry the equivalent $30-$50 and leave $100-$200 back at your hotel in the safe. This way you have a larger stash back in the hotel in case you need to buy a larger purchase in an emergency like a train ticket.

Alert Your Bank Of Your Plans

Make sure that you contact your bank about your travel plans.  This way they will not put a hold on your card and freeze your funds due to suspected fraudulent activity.

This can be a terribly disappointing situation if you are in line trying to pay for something and your card will not go through.  You may have to spend the afternoon on hold with your bank trying to reactivate it.  Instead of dealing with this extra hassle, plan ahead and notify them about your travel plans.

Tax-time 2014 – what a fine way to start 2015!

Wow – another 3 month (and 5 day) push on behalf of the CRA, with more to come when all of the corporate and trust tax returns have to be filed! So, were there any special changes or affects this year – yes indeed? I have exposure to tax returns from several other countries and it is interesting to compare the results (financially) between countries for the same personal and family situations.

I have come the conclusion that while the Canadian Tax System is clearly the most complex, cumbersome and frustrating for taxpayers to use and complete on their own, ours seems to offer the fairest outcome (i.e. lowest taxes) than either the US, Australia or the UK – good for us! On the flip side we kill way more trees – the average Canadian paper-filed return seems to require upwards of 20 pieces of paper, the US version requires 6 – federal and state, combined. This is not trying to say that more complex makes for lower taxes but the time and expertise needed is much lower.

So what did I see this year?
A) Medical expenses that people wanted claimed for the Medical Expense Tax Credit:
a. sorry, Aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, pain liniment, wrist and knee braces and elective dental and medical surgeries (to make us all bootiful (sic)) aren’t eligible expenses even if your doctor gives you a prescription for an over-the-counter drug – nope;
b. teeth whitening treatments (chemical or laser or both), aren’t eligible and neither are braces for purely cosmetic purposes, nor implants;
c. naturopathic “prescriptions” with no proven and accepted medical efficacy are likewise not claimable – the same applies to herbal remedies from various cultures;
d. healing lodges and residence therein, are not on the list and neither are alternative treatments such as chelation therapy or other type of experimental, non-approved approaches;
e. non-medically approved vitamins and potions, regardless of whether or not you have a prescription or who tells you to take or use them – no again;
f. the same applies for “misracle treatments” performed outside Canada – you can take them all you like, but Canadian Provincial and Territorial plans will not cover them, nor will your group plans and neither will they be permitted as eligible medical expenses; and
g. before you embark on such plans, check with your Provincial and group carriers, along with CRA so you know which costs are all yours!
B) On the flip sides, things that are eligible but were missed included:
a. Incontinency supplies;
b. Batteries for hearing aids and other medically prescribed devices;
c. Crutches, walkers, scooters and wheelchairs when medical prescribed and required – including rental fees and outright purchase in some circumstances plus repairs; and
d. Prosthetic devices – mechanical and otherwise, including hairpieces for cancer patients and breast prostheses.
C) Lots of confusion about the recently announced Family Tax Savings plan, most people thought it meant they would average both their incomes and shift as much as $50,000 into the name of the other spouse and were quite disappointed when they learned that their utopic view had no connection to reality.
D) The Pension Income Splitting opportunity under the tax act is still perceived as more confusing each year. Even when clearly explained, people ask how can adding more money to my spouses’ taxable income, reduce the amount payable? But it does!
E) The Charitable Donation Tax Credit continues to amaze me and frustrate clients. Pledges made are not claimable, only actual donations made and if you have received an approved receipt from an approved organisation ( . Local fund raisers, regardless of the worthiness of the cause, are not claimable.
F) The Family Care Giver Credit is often missed – and the person for whom you are providing care does not necessarily have to be personally eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.
G) Miscellaneous credits such as the Public Transit Credit, Adoption Expense Credit, Children’s Fitness and Arts Credits and the Home Buyers Tax Credit (not to be confused with the Home Buyers Plan for temporarily withdrawing funds from your RRSP to purchase a first home).

Plan now for 2015. Start a file or envelope into which you put every possible receipt that could entitle you to increased expense or tax credit claims. In early 2016, set aside an hour or so and sort all of them into categories, then let a qualified tax-preparer help you get everything you deserve!

Expectations of entitlement – where do you sit?

This is coming from Panama – Coronado on the Pacific Coast to be exact. We are here for 12 days. An interesting country – some very lovely spots and the people have been universally friendly so far! Lots of expats here – both Canadian and US. They have their own currency, the Balboa – but it is on a par with US currency so both are used interchangeably. Their driving habits rival those of Montreal – glad we are using professional, private transportation.

The expanded canal is the most amazing feat of construction in the world and they are justifiably proud of the work in progress and the eventual result. Apparently will add $6 Billion (over operating costs) to the Panamanian economy each year!

With that said, there are many deficiencies in services that we take for granted. Some of the more interesting gaps is there is no proper ambulance service, and they do not have any paramedics! You phone a private Ambulance, they locate a doctor who is available and then they come and get you – wait times up to 6 hours – yes hours – all are privately operated – cost for pickup ranges from about $300 to over $600 – CASH only – and they stop at a cash machine for you! No postal system as we know it. There is a strange courier/package system that some people use where mail is sent to PO Boxes in Miami, Florida – and sent here by air freight. No bills are mailed – everything is a cash transaction from cell phones to satellite TV to gas – cheap – $.898 per litre for diesel and about $.92 for regular gas.

Lots of stores but overall quality is “dollar-store” level – including groceries and fresh veggies and meat. Fruit is great quality as is the local seafood – the prawns and bass in particular. Meat is a huge disappointment to someone used to high quality everything. Chicken and turkeys are good – the rest – ?????

Residential water service is an interesting mix of on and off. All residences have water storage – where we are staying – 700 gallons (US) – which lasts about 2 days for the 4 of us here – wasteful aren’t we!

So what is the point of all this? First, Canadians are blessed with unbelievable wealth (and I am not talking money) and public and private services that have no equivalents here (or in many other parts of the world of course); second we don’t acknowledge that wealth even to ourselves; third as a group, Canadians have developed a very unhealthy sense of entitlement without appreciation for that which we have and fourth, we have universal access to medical and a social welfare/social services net (no, it is NOT perfect) – Panamanians have none of these.

Now they do have some advantages: there is no personal income tax; property taxes are very low; they have some low-quality grocery products that are price-frozen for low-income people; and the climate is very pleasant, with the exception of the high humidity.

My blogging colleague, Becky Wong, CFP, has done a few excellent blogs on the topic of entitlement in Canada. I am adding another voice to her message. A great many Canadians do not seem to be grateful for all that we have – most clamour for more and more but loathe paying the cost – let the Governments (all 3, or 4 levels if you include the new First Nations bureaucracy).

The ONLY source of Government and First Nations’ revenue is you and I – the people. Let us not forget this key point.

Corporations have never paid any taxes – they are merely conduits down to the people and this has nothing to do with politics either – they are simply hired tax collectors – another branch of Government taxation. This concept applies to property taxes and every other type of taxation. The idea is to hide these extra taxes from us poor taxpayers – not citizens either as Daphne Bramham of the Vancouver Sun tried to make out. Hi Daphne – many non-citizens pay more taxes than many citizens and there are more citizens who do not pay taxes than taxpayers – time to come in from the cold!

Rather than demanding or expecting more or thinking we are entitled to more, let’s think about GIVING more for a change – to paraphrase John F. Kennedy: “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” Shouldn’t we be a country of givers rather than takers?

From loyalty programs to the true cost of credit cards

Moving past the cost of loyalty programs to credit cards

My last blog covered how the costs of all the loyalty programs are passed along to all consumers – even those who don’t belong to such programs. Credit card costs have been in the news a great deal in 2013 and even received a mention in the Speech from the Throne that opened the new Session of Parliament.

Most readers will remember the Competition Bureau finding earlier this year in FAVOUR of credit card fees being passed along to all consumers rather than just those who use the cards. The issuers of the credit cards were, of course, ecstatic with the ruling – merchants not so much and consumers not at all, but then, cynic that I am, did anyone really expect the Bureau to side with consumers over large financial institutions – both national and international in scope?

So let’s do some math (sorry). For simplicity, I will use a card issued in three flavours – a basic, no-fee, no-reward format (Bronze), a fee-based card that also provides extra loyalty bonuses in the form of “points” redeemable for merchandise gifts from the issuer’s pre-selected catalogue (Silver) and the third is a Gold card (also fee-based but at nearly twice the level of the Silver card) that gives points that can be redeemed for travel – allegedly unlimited travel without blackouts and restrictions.

Having operated business that accepted credit cards, I know all too well the costs involved. First the merchant pays a fee to be able to accept each type of credit card. Then they have to rent at least one of those ubiquitous terminals that work at least some of the time. Their banking institution will sometimes charge an additional processing fee to handle the credit card vouchers while other card issuers have a fixed-fee arrangement (as a percentage of the TOTAL amount charged, including tips and taxes!).

A typical fee schedule for this hypothetical card series would look like this:

Card User Charge Merchant Charge
Bronze $0 annual fee 1.75% of total amount charged
Silver $120.00 annual fee 3.15% of total amount charged
Gold $225.00 annual fee 4.65% of total amount charged

I am NOT quoting fees for ANY specific credit card currently in use. These are illustrative only and roughly represent a mid-point of charges currently at work in our economy. Each card issuer and supporting financial institutions are completely free to set (and change) their own fee schedules.

With these fees charged to the merchants and vendors on the total amount put on the purchaser’s card, it is no wonder that the card companies and issuing institutions are raking in obscene profits at the expense of both the merchant and consumers – regardless of their incomes.

If you were a merchant, how much of these merchant costs would you include? 1.75%? 3.15%? 4.65%? Plus somewhere the cost of “buying into” the use of the card and terminal rental has to be included – the merchant can’t afford to take any loss with margins being so tight!

Most users today have either a Silver- or Gold-type credit card so the merchant has to plan for at least the Silver fee and a large percentage of the Gold fee – say 4.15%? On everything. Whether the purchaser pays in cash, uses a debit card (there are fees for these cards too but are usually less than .60% depending on merchant volume) or a credit card. Oh, the merchant also pays GST and possibly PST on top of these fees!

The low and modest income person or family who can’t qualify for any credit card, well, they are all still is paying the fees. Is this fair? This says nothing of the usury interest rates of sometimes more than 24% being charged on any outstanding balances.

Make sure you understand the costs and how they affect you!

Travel Insurance – outside Canada

Greetings once again and I am going to pickup from last week’s topic of the need for travel medical and dental insurance – this time looking at things outside Canada.

First, of course, the quality of emergency medical and dental care varies widely around the world – particularly outside North America, the European Union, parts of the Pacific Rim and Austral-asia areas. With that as a given, let’s look at coverages.

Many plans have exclusions or limited benefits payable if you have a flare up/emergency related to an existing medical condition – such as a history of heart problems, diabetes, stroke, etc. READ THE LIMITATIONS BEFORE YOU BUY! I am not aware of any travel insurance policies that cover costs incurred on a “medical” vacation or for cosmetic procedures or treatments.

The questions on the application must be completed with 100% accuracy – if you are not sure how to answer them, go and see your doctor – do not “guess” at the answers – this can easily result in your claim be denied or severely restricted. Listing of your medications, dosage and duration of treatment or use of that medication will also be required. Check if the plan has a toll-free number for emergency personnel to call and get approval for treatment. Check if you have to pay the bill yourself first and then submit a claim to the insurance company or if the medical providers can bill the insurance company directly.

If you travel regularly out of Canada, you may be better off purchasing a multi-trip plan that gives you coverage for a full year for a number of trips of varying durations.

To quote the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care: “You are strongly advised to purchase additional health insurance every time you leave Canada and ensure that the supplementary insurance you have purchased provides adequate coverage.”