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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!
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HOW YOU CAN LOWER YOUR REFINANCING FEES

Points are the up-front fees you pay to reduce the interest rate. While it can make sense to pay an additional fee to obtain a lower long term interest rate, be sure to actually take the time to calculate the cost. If you intend to remain in the home for a long period of time and do not wish to refinance in the future, then paying an additional fee for points may make good financial sense. It's also important to know that when a lower than average advertisement requires you to purchase expensive points, you need to compare the same fees with other lenders to make sure you are actually obtaining the most competitive rates.

Zero/Low Interest Can Cost More. The media is filled with promises of zero interest rates and ultra-low monthly mortgage payments. While they might seem like a great idea to begin with, in the long run these loans can cost more - sometimes much more. Always read the fine print and be sure you are able to afford the new payments once the loan re-sets. Many of these mortgages may also require a "balloon payment" or large fee years later.

If you are unable to come up with the money it can cause you to fall behind on payments or even lead to foreclosure. Always obtain a full amortization schedule that shows all the anticipated payments and balance for the life of the loan; it will help you compare how much you will pay over the total cost of the loan and avoid paying hidden refinance fees.

Get a Good Faith Estimate. A Good Faith Estimate is exactly what it sounds like; an estimate of all the charges, closing costs, refinance fees and expenses you will pay in order to take out a new loan or refinance the mortgage. Take time to read and review it carefully and avoid doing business with anyone that refuses to provide a GFE in writing.

Time Matters. If you intend to sell or relocate within a short period of time, it may not make financial sense to refinance even if you combine the closing costs and other refinance fees into the total cost of the new loan. Tally up the anticipated monthly savings then compare against the number of months required to "break even" to determine if it is the right move for you.

Work with a solid lender. With the recent banking crisis it can be difficult to know which company is solid and which isn't. Take time to verify the credentials of the refinance lender and follow-up by making copies of all paperwork, communication and other transactions. In the event of a problem, you will have the information required to prove your position.

Don't fall for scams. Always verify the credentials of any home refinance provider prior to relating sensitive information including social security number, banking or credit scores. It's a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau or other consumer regulatory agency in your state to confirm the agency is in good standing and eligible to write loans. Never do business with a company that requires large up-front fees to gain information or anyone that makes promises that sound too good to be true. Know what typical closing costs and other refinance fees will be before you sign.

Speak to a credit counselor. If you are interested in home refinance as a way to reduce monthly debt, it may be advisable to speak with a credit counselor first. Sometimes it is possible to restructure or modify current loans or debts to make them more affordable without having to refinance. Depending upon your specific situation, loan modifications, extended payment plans or other payment options may be less costly in the long run and provide the same relief for a fraction of the cost. Remember, the time to act is before you are in serious financial trouble. Plan ahead in order to keep all your options open and then make the best decision for your situation.

Get it in writing. Refinancing is a complex transaction where time is of the essence; everything from rate locks to points paid are subject to change so always be sure to get everything in writing. Never rely upon verbal approval only. In the event of a problem you will not have sufficient proof to substantiate your position.

Make copies of everything. You have probably heard the saying to err is human. Well, it certainly holds true when dealing with any type of paperwork. During the course of a mortgage or home refinance you will be required to submit many types of forms and documentation. Take a few extra minutes to make a copy of everything just in case it is needed later. Not only is it a great way to stay organized but it may help prevent the late submission of paperwork required to get the best rate. more on refinancing





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