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!
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.