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Looking for current recommendations (end of 2018) for Israeli credit cards with any kind of reasonable benefits (points or perks) to warrant picking them up.

Note: Please don't flame me that US cards are better and I should use US cards with no FX fees. That's all fine and good - and I do that - but there are still some horaat keva or other purchases for which an Israeli card is at least easier, if not downright required, and I'm looking for a way to at least get some additional benefit from those payments.

Also, if at all possible, helpful responses will avoid using the words "El Al."

Thanks very much,


On The Road / VAT on award nights in Israel
« on: March 24, 2015, 02:13:31 PM »
Israeli citizens redeeming award nights, do they pay 18% VAT on the full cash value of the room? Or is there some other calculation?

For instance, I still have a relatively small 5-figure amount owed to Sallie Mae for student loans at 4.25%.

I can pay it off in full now, which would save me under $150 in interest and I'd be out the 5-figures up front, or I can continue to pay under $100 monthly over the next few years and pay that interest, but have this active, non-credit card loan on my report so as to show diverse credit. How much value, if any, is there to having this active on my report?

I know I can also invest the 5-figure sum now, with a decent likelihood that it will outperform the 4.25% over the period of the loan. I can also get creative and figure out how to get points and/or cash back for paying off the loan so that I end up saving more than the interest. My question is more about the value of having the active loan on the credit report, if any.

Deals/Deal Requests / Verizon Selects
« on: August 20, 2014, 01:15:01 PM »
Not sure if this should be in Tech as a cellular program, where I first posted (no responses) or here in Deals, or in Cards.

What do people think of Verizon's implementation? I'm not really interested in the philosophy (it sounds invasive, I wouldn't want them to know x about me, etc. etc.), but more the practicality of the program from people who have actually signed up.

Are there any good values from the points?
Are the ads and marketing invasive?
Do the bots tracking you use up your data?

That sort of thing.

Tech Talk / Verizon Selects
« on: August 18, 2014, 05:56:57 PM »
Not sure if this should be here in Tech as a cellular program, or in Cards, or even Deals.

What do people think of Verizon's implementation? I'm not really interested in the philosophy, more the practicality of the program:

Are there any good values from the points?
Are the ads and marketing invasive?
Do the bots tracking you use up your data?

That sort of thing.

Goods For Sale/Trade / 2 Six Flags Great Adventure Thrill Passes, $25/ea
« on: August 18, 2014, 12:37:33 PM »
These are the original receipts from a Day-to-Thrill Pass upgrade.

Entitles the holder to enter the park once with the receipt, then set up the Thrill Pass at Guest Relations once you are in the park. (When setting up the Thrill Pass (or the other Passes mentioned below) your finger print will be encoded into the Pass card itself. These receipts that I'm selling are unused, and can be used by anyone.)

The Thrill Pass gives you unlimited entry to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ for the remainder of this season (through September 14). It does not include Hurricane Harbor water park (next door to Great Adventure), nor does it include entry to other Six Flags parks.

You can also upgrade one or both of the passes to a Combo Season Pass, which also allows unlimited entry to Hurricane Harbor water park and any other Six Flags park nationwide, entry to Freight Fest (at Great Adventure, after 9/14), and in-park discounts. This would usually cost about $30 from a regular day ticket, but from a Thrill Pass ticket it costs $13.91 including tax.

You can also upgrade one or both to a Gold Season Pass,  which includes the benefits of the Combo, plus unlimited free parking (usually $25) at any Six Flags park, and VIP early entry to Six Flags Great Adventure. This is normally something in the area of $50 with a day ticket (I'm not sure of the exact price to upgrade), but with the Thrill Pass tickets it will cost you just $26.75 including tax. If you show your parking receipt from that day when upgrading, they will refund your money, making one upgrade a $1.75 incremental cost.

Toward the end of the season, there are also usually opportunities for Thrill or Season Pass holders to lock in a Season Pass for next year at a reasonable cost. I don't have any information about this for this year, but it is also something to keep in mind.

Bottom line, even if you only go to the park once and don't take advantage of the unlimited admission or the upgrade possibilities, $25 to get into the park is an excellent price. It's pretty hard to find tickets for less than $40 - certainly for adults - and I've never personally seen less than $30. Add in that for the same price you have the ability to go back to Great Adventure as many times as you want over the next month, or upgrade to go to a different park someplace else, get free parking, etc. and these tickets have good value.

Please post here or PM. Will sell one or both. Will mail however the buyer would like (regular first class, express, overnight, whatever) at the buyer's expense.

If anyone knows of a reputable deal for Office 2013 please post or PM.

Is there some reason I shouldn't buy a downloadable full-version, as long as it is from an upstanding place (no piracy, etc.)?

I see Groupon has it for $99.99, down from list $139.99.

DiscountMountain has it for $86.98. Anyone use them? Those are the best I've found so far that don't look sketchy.

Thanks very much.

Up In The Air / Norwegian Air Shuttle?
« on: May 22, 2014, 05:51:46 PM »
Is this airline any good?

Credit Cards And Finance / Save your Receipts: A Cautionary Tale
« on: May 08, 2014, 02:08:24 PM »
I'm posting this as a Public Service Announcement, catharsis, kapparah - something.

After reading this, I'm sure some will say I'm just a poor idiot, and maybe I am, but I imagine that I'm not the only poor idiot in this way, and if my story can help some people, at least I'll have contributed to a little less idiocy.

Confession: Until now, I have been... less than exemplary about keeping my receipts for GCs. I do try pay attention that the amount I'm paying at the register makes sense based on the number of GCs and the fees (duh), but barring any rebate of some kind, I've just been junking the receipts.

This week, I hit two $200 Visa GCs that wouldn't load to BB. I went to the GiftCardMall website and got an error. I called, and was told they were never activated, and I can either fax the receipt and other info, or should go back to the store.

Luckily, I had a pile of reward receipts sitting around from recent Staples promotions. When you look at the receipt, they print with a long code from the back of the GC, above the bar code, not the actual card number from the front. Unluckily, I struck out with those receipts, though they did help me narrow down the possible transactions that could have given me the dud cards. The problem - I still could have bought them from one of five different stores (yeah, I get around).  and I... don't... have... the... receipt.

Without the receipt there is no proof I ever purchased the cards and both GiftCardMall (the Visa card provider) and Staples have essentially no reason to treat me like anything other than a fraudster trying to get free money.

Even if Staples could do some kind of a transaction search for my card codes, a. they probably won't find them because - hello - the cards weren't activated, and b. why would they do this for someone they think is a potential fraudster? I may still ask them to do this, but I'm not particularly hopeful.

I think my only recourse will be to dispute the charges with Chase, and that's pretty dicey, for obvious reasons, even if they end up crediting me. If anyone has any other suggestions, I'm all ears.

Otherwise - let this be a lesson to anyone - like me - who wasn't keeping their receipts until after the cards have been cleared. Ordering online from Staples will help with this tremendously, since you have to activate the cards yourself, and you'll know immediately if there is a problem, with plenty of documentation. But if you buy cards from stores - any cards, from any stores:

Keep your receipts until the cards are cleared, or at least until you verify activation somehow. Just do it. The alternative is way worse.

Credit Cards And Finance / "rewards" GCs
« on: February 21, 2014, 11:31:55 AM »
I recently discovered a sizable balance of points on an ancient, terrible rewards plan from my very first CC which I don't use anymore.

None of the options for redemption are more than $0.01/point (at least to my eye) and some are less. :(

They do offer 10,000 points for $100 Visa prepaid card, but no higher denominations.

Here is the blurb about it:

The Rewards Card can be used to purchase goods and services anywhere VisaŽ debit cards are accepted worldwide. Please note that the ship-to name will be the name embossed on the card. All cards will be sent to the ship-to address on the order. US Postal Service does not forward the card. Cards expire 24 months from date of issue. Visa is a registered Trademark of Visa U.S.A. Inc. PLEASE ALLOW 2 - 4 WEEKS FOR SHIPMENT.

This Rewards Card is issued in the form of a Visa prepaid card. This card is issued by Elan Financial Services pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. This Rewards Card cannot be reloaded with additional funds, nor can it be used at an ATM (Automated Teller Machine). Terms and conditions apply and other fees may apply to Rewards Cards. For complete terms and conditions, see the "Elan Rewards Card Cardholder Agreement" available online at

Anyone have any experience with Elan, or thoughts on if these cards will load to BB?

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