Important news before you travel:
If you are in the United States you should be aware of certain Travel Advisories which are given to citizens who choose to travel abroad. These advisories can affect you and may even change your travel plans. So before you go to the airport you should always check to see if your destination country is on the List of the United States Government Travel Advisories.
For more information: Check out the link below which will send you to the US Governments official website.
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.
AIRPORT TIPS YOU CAN USE
To make your way to a flight on time and to get throught security as quickly as possible you can try the following tips:
1) Sign up. The TSA's PreCheck, a trusted traveler program, has spread to more cities across the U.S. and is now available at some 40 airports. Members of the program are pre-screened and can then whiz through security, sometimes without having to take off their shoes or remove laptops from cases. The U.S. Customs Department's Global Entry program is another shortcut for frequent international travelers, especially as the federal government contracts and customs lines potentially get longer.
Critical Security Checkpoints:
To make clearing security as easy as possible...
-Review the guidelines for liquids and gels on your Flight carriers Carry-On Baggage page before your flight.
-Have your government-issued photo identification and boarding pass ready for inspection.
-Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, since all footwear must be x-rayed.
-Remember to place all coats and jackets in a bin for x-ray screening.
-Make your laptop easily accessible for inspection.
-Avoid wearing anything metal or place these items in your carry-on baggage for screening
2) Check flight status. Although this is obvious, many people often fail to do this one simple but critical thing.
I recommend doing the same before abandoning your ride or your car just before you head to the terminal; flight status updates change by the minute, so a last-second check is always a good idea.
Most airlines will text you flight status updates if you sign up on their Web sites, and sites like Flightaware.com do the same by text, on the Web and through smartphone apps.
4) Check in online. Especially if you are not checking bags, this can save you a heap of time. I have found that when checking bags, having the pre-printed boarding pass in your hand doesn't help all that much, and check-in agents often reissue another boarding pass when you check in your bags -- but it sure doesn't hurt.
5) Before you leave for the airport, put your ID, credit card and boarding pass (if applicable) in an easily accessible part of your wallet or bag. There are two reasons for this: one, by going through this exercise, you make sure that you don't leave home without these crucial items. Two, you don't waste your (and other people's) time fumbling around for them at the moment you need them.
Check the airport parking situation online. Knowing ahead of time where to park, which lots are open and how far they are from the terminal can save you a lot of anxiety on your drive in, as well as keep you safer as you navigate tortuous and almost always poorly marked airport ring roads. Additionally, during peak travel periods, lots fill up quickly, so you will want an alternate parking plan.
When you are ready to board always take inventory of what you will need to do when you get to the front of the security line. Do a quick mental review of everything you are wearing that you will need to remove (such as shoes, jewelry, watch, jacket), and what you have inside your carry-on bag that might need to be taken out (liquids, electronics). When you get to the front of the line, blast through your mental inventory and make it happen. Done well, you can go from fully clad for winter weather, with laptops and iPads in your bag, to a T-shirt, pants and socks, and all your sensitive electronics in their own bins, in seconds.
Using these tips will get you through the airport, on your flight and towards your destination as quickly as possible.
more traveler informaiton tips available at the TSA website:
WHY THE MORTGAGE RATE PROCESS IS COMPLICATED
When you first begin looking for a mortgage, the process seems relatively simple, just compare rates and pick the lowest one. But, after several calls to lenders that may not ask all the qualifying questions, you begin to realize that comparing lenders may become a difficult task. In addition, you may be speaking to loan officers that are not thoroughly trained, and therefore provide wrong information. So where can you go to shop for the right mortgage? You have to do your research and keep a log to help yourself remember all the available options.
Until your loan is "locked" the interest rates on the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is simply a reflection of what the rate is at the moment the Loan Originator prepared the GFE. In fact it's possible that the rate may have changed just moments after the GFE was provided to the client. Mortgage interest rates can change throughout the day. The GFE is not a guarantee of the mortgage interest rate, costs or that one is qualified or approved for a loan program.
Comparing what different mortgage brokers and lenders are charging you to get an interest rate is often the most difficult part of mortgage shopping. First make sure that you are comparing the interest rates on the same day. Rates change when the bond market changes, which occurs daily, if not a couple of times a day.
One of the challenges in shopping for a mortgage is that lenders seem to have their own way of expressing costs. Compare total costs to get the loan. Get to the bottom line, and look at the GRAND TOTAL SUM of ALL costs before you compare the interest rates. We believe that you will find USA-Mortgage.com has the lowest cost mortgages anywhere.
FEES THAT LENDERS CHARGE:
1. Appraisal/ Credit Report Fees or Application Fee - These are fees paid to companies other than your lender for services necessary to obtain your loan. In addition, some lenders may have "application fees". If this is the case make sure this fee is either credited to you at closing or is used for your credit and appraisal report. Our Application Fee is $350, which pays for your appraisal and credit report.
2. Loan Origination and Points - An origination fee or point is 1% of your loan amount. By converting these fees to actual dollars, you can get a truer cost comparison. Some lenders quote zero point loans but charge and origination or broker point.
3. Lender Charges - (i.e. underwriting, processing, document preparation, tax service, flood, etc.) These fees can vary significantly depending on your lender.
4. Title Fees - These fees are paid directly to a title company. These fees include; title insurance, recording fees, closing fee, survey, termite, and attorney fees if applicable.
An interest rate lock guarantees your interest rate for 30 days from the date your application is received (unless you have specifically asked your loan officer for a 15 day lock). A lock does not obligate you to a loan, as technically you are not obligated to any loan until it closes. It just eliminates the risk of interest rates increasing. If interest rates fall, lenders can not re-lock with the lender at the lower rate, so if you are comfortable with an interest rate you can be assured that the interest rate will be available when you close.
The purpose of a lock is to provide an opportunity for you to arrange to complete your mortgage and real estate transaction before the lock expires. This allows you to budget, plan your affordability, and purchase a home without having to worry about it changing before you actually close on your loan. Otherwise, interest rates may increase and by the time you close on your home, you may not be able to afford or qualify for the loan on your home. Interest rate locks provide needed security. Since lenders are absorbing interest rate risk they charge for taking on this risk. For instance, typically a 60 day lock interest rate is slightly higher than a 30 day lock interest rate. Therefore, when you shop for mortgages, a 7% interest rate with a 60 day lock is a better deal than a 7% interest rate with a 30 day lock.
Typically, the buyer has a signed around (agreed to) purchase and sale agreement. Most locks require a property address along with the borrowers full legal name, social security number, program type, purchase price/loan amount and credit scores along with the length of time required to close the transaction.
Rate locks are priced based on the number of days that the borrower wants the rate lock to be in effect. Since the rate lock needs to be in effect through the closing date of your loan, bottlenecks in the loan approval process or purchase contract can derail a rate lock. Most rate locks are in the 30-60 day range.