Woman looking from a bridge in Italy (Photo: IndexOpen)

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Late last year, I wrote approvingly that foreign transaction fees for credit card charges were becoming an endangered species.

American Express had just announced that it would discontinue the fees for its Platinum and Centurion cards.

At the time, Capital One cards were already free of foreign fees, as were the Chase-issued cards linked to the programs of United (Club Visa only), Continental (Presidential Plus card only), British Airways, InterContinental, and Hyatt, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Citibank subsequently eliminated the fees for users of its ThankYou Premier and Prestige cards (annual fee: $125 and $500, respectively)....read more»

Photo: iStockphoto

The launch of an entirely new loyalty program by a major player in the travel marketplace doesn't happen often.

It did yesterday, though, with the rollout of Expedia's Rewards program. (Editor's Note: SmarterTravel is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns Expedia.com.)

Program Details

Earning Points

Expedia Rewards members earn one point per $1 spent on flights, hotels, and activities, and between two and four points per $1 for travel packages including air, hotel, rental car, and activities.

Significantly, Rewards members earn points for the travel they book, no matter who actually travels. So there's the potential to earn a significant number of points by booking trips for family and friends....read more»

Hyatt Regency Chicago (Photo: Hyatt)

Last week, reviewing Hilton's second-quarter promotion, I noted that the "latest round of offers does, however, give us a sense of the hotels' waning marketing aggressiveness as both occupancy rates and room rates rise."

The new offer from Hyatt sits squarely on that generally negative trend line, offering a generous bonus, but imposing a qualification threshold that is out of reach for most non-frequent travelers.

Offer Details

Between April 1 and June 30, Hyatt Gold Passport members will earn 10,000 bonus points after five qualifying nights at Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt, Hyatt Place, Summerfield Suites, or Hyatt Residence Club hotels, and 5,000 bonus points for every two nights thereafter, up to a maximum of 60,000 bonus points during the promotion period....read more»

Hotel room door slightly open (Photo: iStockphoto/MBCheatham)

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With the economy rebounding and demand for travel picking up, it's a given that the long and continuous wave of generous hotel bonuses will be coming to an end.

But when? And will be the offers be scaled back gradually or terminated abruptly?

I now have details of several hotel promotions for the second quarter, including offers from Hyatt, InterContinental, and Hilton. So, at least for the next quarter, there's no danger of an industry-wide move to forego promotional activity altogether.

The latest round of offers does, however, give us a sense of the hotels' waning marketing aggressiveness as both occupancy rates and room rates rise....read more»

Man with bags walking down empty road (Photo: iStockphoto/Johnny Habell)

In this digital age, it's easy to forget that worthwhile learning and networking opportunities still sometimes take place in real time, in the real world.

If you're reading this, you're probably a mileage maven. And if you're a mileage maven, there's a real-world learning opportunity that should be on your calendar: Frequent Traveler University.

Frequent Traveler University is a day-long series of workshops where, according to the website, "you'll learn how to leverage the frequent flyer points that you are earning to get the best value and discover how the other half lives."...read more»

Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER (Photo: Boeing)

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Effective immediately, members of Hawaiian Airlines' HawaiianMiles program can earn and redeem miles on Korean Air flights, and members of Korean Air's Skypass program can earn and redeem miles for flights on Hawaiian Airlines.

Hawaiian already had frequent flyer relationships in place with Continental (limited routes), Delta, Virgin Atlantic, and Island Air. What was missing was a partner with strong Asia-Pacific coverage, to complement Hawaiian's expansion in that region. Korean, with its extensive network of flights within Asia, fits that bill nicely....read more»

American Airlines planes wait at their gates (Photo: Index Open)

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On April 5, American will launch 10 new flights to and from Los Angeles. As often happens with new flights, the airline is offering bonus miles to call attention to the services, and to help fill the planes.

Offer Details

Between April 5 and June 30, AAdvantage members can earn double miles on American and American Eagle flights between Los Angeles and Albuquerque, Boise, El Paso, Houston, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, and Tucson.

During the same period, program members can earn triple miles for first- or business-class flights to Shanghai, and double miles for coach....read more»

Credit Card: People Passing Card (Photo: iStockphoto/Marcus Clackson)

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Earning OnePass miles for using a Continental debit card issued by Chase? Enjoy it while you can.

According to Chase's website, your mileage-earning days are numbered:...read more»

Photo: United Airlines

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Ninety-nine times out of 100, a change to a loyalty program's award chart is a change for the worse.

So when it was announced on United's website that "updates are coming to the United Mileage Plus award charts," there was legitimate cause for concern. In the past, "updates" has been code for downgrades: higher prices, more restrictions.

This update proves to be the exception to the rule. While there are changes for the worse, there are improvements as well....read more»

Credit Card: Fan of Cards (Photo: iStockphoto/Stefan Klein)

On Monday, when I first posted information regarding opportunities for frequent flyers to use their miles to assist relief efforts in Japan, the scope of last week's disaster was only just coming into focus and there was little frequent flyers could do beyond the normally available miles-for-charity channels.

In the past few days, however, many of the larger airlines and hotel companies have scrambled to offer members of their loyalty programs one or more options for using their points to assist with the relief efforts.

It's a mixed bag. Some programs offer a mileage bonus for cash donations; others match members' donations; and still others do nothing more than provide a conduit for channeling miles into the account of a supported charity....read more»

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