TIPS ON MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS:
When traveling for business or fun, there’s nothing worse than thinking you have a reservation and learning your hotel reservations been lost, your room has one bed and not two bedrooms, or you thought your check-in time was noon, only to find out it is really 3:00pm. To help avoid these things from happening, there are a few helpful hotel reservation tips seasoned travelers recommend:
Always use a credit card when making a hotel reservation. A credit cards offers the guest some level of protection should the hotel stay go awry. Any disputes a guest may have with the hotel, or with the billing can more easily be rectified through the credit card company. The card company will act as a mediator once their client can show effort to resolve the dispute. Additionally, if a dispute cannot be resolved, the credit card company has the authority to remove the charge from a client’s bill. If cash were paid, a hotel guest would have no recourse. Note: If you don’t use your own credit card to secure a reservation, be aware that the person whose name is on the card will be responsible for showing the card and signing at check in. If the card does not belong to the person staying at the hotel, notify the desk before leaving home (prior to arrival) and ask what their identification procedure is. They may accept a letter from the credit card holder authorizing use, and a copy of both the front and back of the card.
Ask for deals/discounts at each hotel. Many hotels offer corporate, AAA, senior, or even mid-week/off-season discounts. If one is not offered - ask about them. Many hotels now offer ‘rewards’ programs and some hotels reduce rates by $50 or more, for simply signing up for their program. If making reservations online, look for internet-only rates and shop various websites to find the best deals. Travel agents can often secure unadvertised specials or late check-in opportunities which can translate into huge savings.
When making reservations speak clearly and repeat spelling of all names. There have been many reservations lost because of inaccurate spelling and guests have been told they did not have rooms when a hotel or an entire city was booked to capacity. If any special requests are made, verify them and if possible get them in writing. Also make sure to get the name of the employee. Verify everything spell names and verify information/requests etc. Double check reservations prior to leaving for hotel and make sure names of all hotel employees you’ve spoken to are taken.
When reservations are made, changed and cancelled-confirmation numbers are given. Make sure all numbers are kept in a safe place until credit cards are billed and all charges are verified. Cancellation and confirmation numbers are often the difference between being charged for a hotel reservation that was cancelled, the possibility of a free upgrade when the hotel overbooks and you can prove when your reservation was made, and being stranded away from home without a room for the night.
Discuss hotel policies prior to making reservations, and verify them at check-in. Some hotels require credit cards at check in for any hotel charges, such as telephone usage, room service, meals in the hotel, or even take -out arranged through the hotel with area restaurants, etc. If a credit card is not available, a cash/check deposit maybe required for any services/fees that may accrue during the hotel stay. Determine when check-in/check-out times are, when cancellation policies go into affect and verify occupancy limits if staying in a room with multiple occupants.
Remember these hotel reservation tips when scheduling your travel plans. Whether by internet, through a travel agent, or by telephone, it pays to research the hotel and be meticulous when making arrangements. A little pre-planning when making reservations can save major headaches when traveling away from home.
DID YOU KNOW:
FINDING THE BEST HOTEL RATES:
Due to the internet, the manners in which hotel rooms are procured have drastically changed over the last couple of decades. Prior to internet access, guests called hotels directly to book rooms. While some guests continue to book rooms this way, many have learned that calling a hotel directly may not be the most economical choice. However, it is also been found that hotel rates also vary a great deal from website to website, especially discount travel sites.
Hotels are in constant competition with each other for your business. The goal of every hotel is to achieve 100% occupancy. Not only are they competing with each other, they are often competing with themselves. Look at how many hotels have various hotel chain subsidiaries beneath them. They must stay competitive, but still continue to make a profit while keeping their rooms occupied. This said, many hotels offer blocks of rooms to a variety of other entities to sell. Travel agents and online brokers typically compete to sell rooms for hotels, and they receive a percentage of the purchase price. The rate disparity comes into play two ways. First, the hotel is offering rooms at their standard rates or discount club rates. Second, because hotels offer these agents and booking websites various rates, someone who is getting a larger percentage of the sale price, can afford to offer the room at a lower rate than someone who is getting a small percentage from the sale.
Finding the best room rate:
If contacting the hotel directly, ask if they have any current specials. If your travel plans are flexible, inquire about any future specials, and the specific parameters of those specials.
If you’re a ‘select’, ‘rewards’ or hotel ‘member’, mention this, and ask if they have any special discounts available for members of their programs. Additionally, if you are affiliated with a corporate account, or a roadside assistance plan which offers travel benefits, mention that too. Sometimes guests are eligible for more than one discount and can pick and choose the one that provides the greatest savings.
When placing reservations online through a hotel booking service, first find the service that offers the best deal. The best deal may not be the one which provides the lowest price, but the service with the best room guarantee, who is willing to price match. If you’ve found the room for a lower rate elsewhere, tell your preferred vendor and ask them to match the price. Several websites will even provide a 30-day guarantee against lower prices - so even after booking your reservation, stay vigilant.
Hotel rates vary so much because there are numerous entities vying to secure your business by competing with each other. With a little investigative prowess, you can secure the best rates possible for your hotel stay, despite the varying rates.
DID YOU KNOW ARIZONA IS A VERY POPULAR TOURIST DESTINATION?
Arizona-the Grand Canyon State-is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Beyond the iconic Grand Canyon, experiences await you in every direction and in every corner of the state. Arizona is home to 47 national parks, monuments and refuges as well as 29 state parks that showcase mountains, buttes, deserts and hidden lakes. Visitors often start exploring Arizona from Phoenix, the state capital and the fifth largest city in the United States.
Phoenix and Outskirts
Today, Phoenix is a destination as well as a gateway to further adventure in the rugged deserts, lakes and canyons around its edges. Here are some sites to visit around the city:
Phoenix was not the first town to arise along the banks of the Salt River. Explore Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park to see where the ancient Sonoran Desert people once lived and farmed.
The145-acre Desert Botanical Garden strives to be the premier center in the world for the display, study and understanding of desert plants and their environments. Visitors from around the world come here to appreciate the beauty of the garden and to enjoy its outdoor trails, special events and education programs.
The Heard Museum is one of the world’s finest destinations for learning about American Indian arts and cultures with its 11 exhibition galleries, free guided tours, outdoor sculpture gardens, renowned café, art gallery, trading-post style shopping and more. Be sure and watch the Heard’s Native People of the Southwest video series.
There is a reason National Geographic named Phoenix one of "America’s Best Hiking Cities." Phoenix’s South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the United States with 16,000 acres and 51 miles of trails for hiking, wildlife viewing or horseback riding. Other Phoenix area trails and desert preserves include Camelback Mountain, Shaw Butte and Piestewa Peak. The Tonto National Forest is another “backyard” desert playground for urban dwellers-tubing on the Salt River is an Arizona summer tradition!
HOW TO GET A LOAN ON YOUR HOME'S EQUITY
If you are in the market for credit, a home equity plan is one of several options that might be right for you. Before making a decision, however, you should weigh carefully the costs of a home equity line against the benefi ts. Shop for the credit terms that best meet your borrowing needs without posing undue fi nancial risks. And remember, failure to repay the amounts you’ve borrowed, plus interest, could mean the loss of your home.
If you’re interested in borrowing against your home’s available equity to pay for other expenses, you have choices. One option would be to refinance and get cash out. Another option would be to take out a home equity loan or line of credit. Here are some of the key differences between a: cash-out refinance and a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (or HELOC)
A home equity line of credit (often called HELOC and pronounced Hee-lock) is a loan in which the lender agrees to lend a maximum amount within an agreed period (called a term), where the collateral is the borrower's equity in his/her house (akin to a second mortgage). Because a home often is a consumer's most valuable asset, many homeowners use home equity credit lines only for major items, such as education, home improvements, or medical bills, and choose not to use them for day-to-day expenses.
Home Equity Loan terms
Cash-out refinance: completely replaces your existing first: mortgage. This restarts the: term of the loan (meaning it can change your interest rate and type of mortgage, as well as reset the term of the loan). It also results in a new payment: amortization schedule, which shows the monthly payments you’d need to make in order to pay off the mortgage principal and interest by the end of the loan term.
Home equity loan or line of credit: is taken out in addition to your existing first mortgage; it doesn’t replace it. It will have its own term and repayment schedule, separate from your first mortgage, and is considered a second mortgage.
How you receive your funds
Cash-out refinance: you receive a lump sum when you close your refinance. The loan proceeds are first used to pay off your existing mortgage(s), and any remaining funds are yours to use.
Home equity loan: you receive a lump sum when your loan closes.
Home equity line of credit: you’ll receive access to a line of credit that you can draw from as needed during the permitted draw period. Although the size of the credit line can change at the lender’s discretion, you’re typically allowed to borrow as little or as much as you like, up to the maximum limit of your credit line.
Cash-out refinance: can typically offer a lower interest rate than other types of equity loans.
Home equity loans: are fixed-rate loans. Throughout the life of the loan, you’re protected from payment fluctuations as the interest rate remains fixed. Rates for home equity loans can often be higher than for other types of equity loans.
Home equity lines of credit: are usually adjustable-rate loans that change with an index (usually The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate). Your lender may also offer you a fixed-rate loan option. Bank of America home equity lines of credit include this fixed-rate conversion option. This would allow you to convert all or just a portion of the principal you owe on a home equity line of credit to a fixed rate. Home equity lines of credit typically carry lower interest rates than home equity loans, although if the rate on a HELOC is adjustable, the payment could increase significantly in the future.
Cash-out refinance: will incur closing costs similar to your original mortgage.
Home equity loans and lines of credit: usually have no, or relatively small, closing costs.
If you think that borrowing from your available home equity could be a good financial option for you, talk with your lender about cash-out refinancing, home equity loans, and home equity lines of credit. Based on your personal situation and financial needs, they can provide the information you need to choose the best option for your situation.
Benefits of Home Equity Loans
-Payment choice: Choose between principal and interest or interest-only payments.
-Ongoing accessibility: Access available funds now and in the future to pay for home improvements and other recurring expenses, without reapplying.
-Flexibility: Adapt to changing interest rates without refinancing-convert all or part of the line balance into a fixed-rate advance, for predictable monthly payments.
-Potential tax benefits: Unlike personal loans or credit cards, the interest on your home equity financing may be tax deductible.
-Relationship discounts: You may be eligible for relationship discounts up to 0.375% with a qualified Wells Fargo deposit account and automatic payments.
The interest rate on a home equity line of credit is variable, so your monthly interest-only payment may change according to the market rate unless you convert to a fixed-rate advance.
While an interest-only plan may provide a lower monthly payment, your principal balance is reduced only when you make voluntary principal payments during the interest-only period. At the end of the fixed-rate advance (FRA) term, any unpaid FRA balance reverts to the variable rate in effect on the home equity line of credit at that time. more on Heloc