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Getting Rid Of Those Pesky Credit Cards Is Harder Than You Think

  

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These days just about everyone has some kind of credit card debt. Whether we’ve hit some bad luck and needed the help or we’re just plain lazy and bad with money, we all know what debt looks like. In fact, a recent report estimated that the average American family has around $8,000 in credit card debt alone. That’s well over a trillion total!

Kind of makes you want to throw your credit card in the ocean, doesn’t it? Well, as much as we’d all like to get rid of our credit cards, it’s not as easy as you think. I know this because I actually tried it! And while I’m happy to be rid of my debt and won’t likely build anymore, it was still a lot harder than you’d think. Here’s everything I learned from the experience.

The Hassle

First and foremost, the most important thing I learned is that getting rid of your credit card (or credit cards) is very, very hard. Mostly because so many things these days require that you have one! Booking hotels and flights, setting up accounts online, putting down a deposit or a “soft hold,” etc, etc. Sure, debit cards work sometimes, but not all the time. So, if you’re thinking about pulling this off yourself, just be prepared to put in the work.

The next major lesson I learned that should be blatantly obvious to all of us, is that if you can’t pay for something with cash, you can’t afford it! Now, I’m not saying you should only keep your money in cash form and just constantly walk around with thousands of dollars in your pockets. That, of course, would be very stupid.

Basically, it means, if you can’t pay for something using the real money you have in your bank account (check, debit card, cash), then you really shouldn’t be buying it all. So many of us convince ourselves that we can put a charge on our card and we’ll definitely pay off the card at the end of the month. No problem. But then, come the end of the month, all of a sudden we don’t have the money to pay off the credit card and now we’ve got a bunch of fun, new debt! So if you’re really looking to get rid of some debt, stick to your checking account.

At this point, many you reading this might be thinking, “Yeah, I hear ya. Debt is scary and easy to rack up. But I just love my rewards!” And, trust me, I hear you. The benefits that come from credit card purchases can be great! Emphasis on can. More often than not, our credit cards are already so full that we’re facing pretty steep interest charges. So if you’re getting a sweet $35 reward on a given purchase, but you’re paying $85 a month in interest charges, you’re not exactly saving yourself any money, are you?! (Hint: No. You’re not.)

Then there are the ever-dangerous store cards. You know, those credit cards you can start that are specifically for H&M or Victoria’s Secret or Old Navy? I’m not going to beat around the bush here, folks: if you open one of these cards you are terrible with money. The interest rates on these cards are typically higher than any other credit card and the rewards are rarely worth it. So if you’re still struggling with the idea of ditching your proper credit cards, at least do me the favor of getting rid of these foolish cards.

And now it’s time for one of the greatest benefits I found when I got rid of my credit cards: I actually started being as frugal as I always wanted to be! When you can put something on your credit card that you promise yourself you’ll pay off later, what’s another couple hundred bucks?! Just go for it – buy both of those sweaters you love!

And therein lies the basic problems with credit cards. It so rarely even feels like real money. So when you get rid of them and start actually using real money, it turns out you’re much smarter about how you spend it and only spend exactly what you need! And when it’s all said and done, I promise you, the things you wanted to buy, and would have bought if you had a credit card, will not be missed whatsoever. In fact, you’ll probably be happy you didn’t bother.


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Destinations

London’s Connaught Bar top the Best Bar’s List of 2020

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The Connaught Bar wins the Best Bar of 2020 title despite the unstable condition of the times. Nevertheless, it was forced to close its doors again.

The Connaught Bar has been named the Best Bar of 2020. This comes after England had to declare a 4-week lockdown to halt the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country. Thus, the exclusive bar had to close its doors to awaiting customers even when it merely reopened in mid-September.

Picking the best bar of the year was altered, as well. Last year’s event was a stand-up gig at London’s famous Roadhouse. Journalists and the industry’s known personalities gathered for the celebration, complete with typical soiree of sorts. 2020’s version, however, was completely different as everyone who had a say had to make do with today’s new normal meeting place, Zoom.

In spite of the hugely diminished revelry, Connaught’s Agostino Perrone and the whole bar’s team of employees are extremely pleased with their victory.  “It’s the achievement we’ve been looking for,” gushes Perrone.

Already considered a Mayfair institution, the Connaught Hotel opened its doors to the public way back in 1815 with the former name, Prince of Saxe Coburg Hotel. Its 1920s-style bar is also an impressive experience.

The Connaught bar has been a consistent feature in the past 11 year’s Best Bars lists, although it is only this year that it was able to get the most yearned for topmost title. Maura Milia, the bar’s assistant manager shares that consistency and quality have been the guiding principles of the establishment. These could be deciphered when ordering the best bar’s iconic martini—a drink that can still be ordered via takeaway.

The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted the hospitality industry this year. All over the world, various bars and hotels needed to close particularly during the early months of the crisis. Due to the need to stop the exponential spread of the disease, physical distancing and quarantine procedures were put in place. For months, bars and other similar businesses had to shift to takeaway service and crowds were discouraged from mingling about.

Giorgio Bargiani, the best bar’s senior mixologist praises the Connaught Hotel for its unrelenting support as employees and customers had to connect via the internet, replacing the age-old routine of in-house service. Perrone looks forward to next year as he hopes that the gradual easing of lockdowns will permit them to reopen once more. “Recognition is always an injection of energy, an injection of creativity,” he asserts.

The World’s Best Bar Academy is populated by 540 bar experts coming from all over the world. They are equally halved by gender, as well. Judging occurred between January 2019 until March 2020, abruptly curtailed by the unprecedented onset of the pandemic. Voting happened earlier in July.

The Best Bar title was fought over by New York and London, although Asia had its representatives with 4 of Singapore’s bars appearing in the top 15 list. “We’re looking at a whole lot of options, because we think that 50 Best has an important role to play in promoting the hospitality sector in what are very challenging times. The precise way we do that is going to keep evolving,” posits William Drew, 50 Best’s director of content explains.

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Thai Government Wants Tourists to Wear Digital Wristbands

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Tourists will be required to wear digital wristbands in Thailand. This will enable the Thai government to easily track their health status while touring the said Southeast Asian country.

To sever possible COVID-19 transmission, Thailand plans to require would-be tourists to wear digital wristbands while staying in the country. This mandate will allow the government to track their whereabouts including their health as they visit Thailand’s different traveler destinations.

Last month, the said Southeast Asian nation opened its borders to a group of Chinese visitors—the first ever arrival since April when Thailand halted inbound travels to control COVID-19 transmission. The country has been doing quite well in the battle against the novel coronavirus. Hence, it has been reluctant to reopen its doors to visitors wanting to explore its various tourist spots.

The recent October group of Shanghai tourists were automatically required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period, especially since they planned to stay within the country for a month. They were also relegated to a government-accredited hotel.

Nevertheless, aside from the automatic quarantine period, recent Thailand updates assert that the nation now plans to mandate all approved, incoming tourists to wear digital wristbands, “Smart Bands” as they are called. These devices will help the government track the tourists, particularly their health, as they visit the different places within the country.

The said digital device measures the body temperature of the wearer which will, then, notify nearby health centers. Tourists who wear digital wristbands will also be able to ask for help should they ever get lost while touring the country.

Not all would-be visitors will be able to enter Thailand, however. At present, only visitors from low-risk areas will be given a Special Tourist Visa. This visa can be obtained by paying 2,000 Baht ($64.25).

Additionally, a would-be tourist needs to have a “fit-to-fly certificate” from a certified doctor, a negative PCR COVID-19 test result, and a health insurance policy of at least $100,000 that will cover COVID-19 treatment within the country.

If you plan to travel to Thailand, you must be able to secure these requirements before buying your ticket. See to it that you will be coming from a country that is enlisted as a low-risk area by the Thailand government. You should also obtain the necessary “fit-to-fly certificate” from your doctor, have a negative PCR COVID-19 test at least 72 hours before your flight, and an insurance policy of the above-stated amount before you can apply for the said Special Tourist Visa.

As of writing, Thailand has only less than 4,000 total COVID-19 cases, a far cry from the overall COVID-19 cases worldwide that has already reached more than 46 million. Hence, the Thai government strictly monitors tourists who are allowed to enter their borders. The planned mandate to require tourists to wear digital wristbands while staying in the country will greatly help control possible COVID-19 transmission which may be brought on by the gradual reopening of its borders.

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Hawaii Vacations Easier Now for Visitors

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Hawaii opens its doors to vacationers. However, there are still several protocols that tourists need to follow.

On 15 October, Hawaii started providing visitors an easier alternative. Instead of requiring tourists to undergo a 14-day quarantine, would-be visitors must undergo testing, at least 72 hours before mainland departure, proving that they are free from the COVID-19 virus. Although this new Safe Travels protocol was supposed to start on the first day of September, the State of Hawaii had to suspend the program due to the sudden spike in cases. Yet, does Hawaii really want visitors now?

“I want people to come if they are fully prepared to test, know that they are healthy and are prepared to wear a mask,” mentions Lt Gov Josh Green, one of the leaders of the program. “If they do all those things, we are excited to resume our relationship with old friends,” he continues. He adds, however, that “…we are very mindful of risk, and we’re just trying to begin the process of a healthy restoration of our economy. We are not pushing for any large numbers. We just want to begin to kind of shake off the rust.”

To participate in the program—and to be given the chance to enter the state, all would-be visitors are required to undergo testing. This is a mandatory protocol that includes testing children who are aged 5 and above. Aside from the tests being done at least 72 hours before leaving the mainland, they should also be undertaken by accredited testing centers or health care agencies.

Green advises travelers to consult their chosen accredited testers regarding their own testing protocols. He mentions that some of these testing centers do not provide testing for children. Some merely offer COVID-19 tests to children who are 12 years old and above.

Nevertheless, the COVID-19 home testing kits from Hawaiian Airlines can also be used for testing purposes. Vault Health mentions that children can do their saliva-based COVID-19 test, as well. Big airline companies that provide Hawaii flights also offer travelers the option to take the test at the accredited clinics or have them done at the airports. They can also opt to do the home tests, as well.

A few of these airlines provide faster test results, too. For a fee of $250, United Airlines offers rapid testing at the San Francisco International Airport. For this kind of test, results are provided in a few minutes. Travelers can also obtain the tests from Walgreens and CVS.

However, the tests may only allow travelers to enter Hawaii. Traveling between islands may require vacationers to undergo additional COVID-19 tests, though. This is a protocol that applies not only to tourists but to Hawaiians, as well. They will also need to do the necessary 14-day quarantine each time they reach a new island.

Additionally, a second COVID-19 test may be requested from visitors, four days after arriving in Hawaii. This allows the government to make sure that visitors are, indeed, negative from the virus. Records suggest that 1 out of 1000 visitors are known to have come up positive during the retesting.

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