Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: When the market drops, play the long game with retirement savings. Also in the news: Is booking a last-minute spring break flight with miles a good idea, a credit union’s new card goes all-in with 3X points, and how to get a credit card when you’re already in debt.

When the Market Drops, Play the Long Game With Retirement Savings
Don’t panic.

Ask a Points Nerd: Should I Book Last-Minute Spring Break Flights With Miles?
The Points Nerd weighs in.

Credit Union’s New Card Goes All-In With 3X Points
A Florida credit union is about to get popular.

How to Get a Credit Card When You’re Already in Debt
When you need a little wiggle room.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Make your brand loyalty pay off. Also in the news: When your new car have more tech than you know what to do with, one thing to know when filing your taxes, and beware email attachment scams this tax season.

Make Your Brand Loyalty Pay Off
Cash in on your devotion.

Does your new car have more tech than you know what to do with?
Too many bells and whistles?

There’s one thing you need to know when filing your taxes
You don’t have to do it on your own.

Beware Email Attachment Scams This Tax Season
Scammers never take a day off.

I travel-hacked a college tour and saved $3,000

Amtrak’s “buy one, get one” spring sale got me started.

My teenage daughter and I had used a similar two-for-one deal last year to take an overnight train trip from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. This year, she wanted to use her spring break to check out colleges in Chicago as well as the Pacific Northwest. When Amtrak announced the return of its companion fare sale, I thought a couple of nights on a sleeper train might be a good way to start our college tour. She agreed.

At the same time, I noticed that we had travel rewards piling up all over the place: points, miles, free anniversary nights at hotels, even a Southwest companion pass that had yet to be used. At NerdWallet, we’re always telling people to spend rather than hoard their rewards, which get less valuable over time thanks to program devaluations.

So I decided to see how much I could save on one 10-day trip. In my latest for the Associated Press, find out what the grand total was and how we pulled it off.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: New Year, Fresh Finances: How to rebound after banking troubles. Also in the news: Gift card expiration dates, 5 great reasons to carry a hotel credit card, and why lawmakers may kill this popular retirement tax break for the wealthy.

New Year, Fresh Finances: How to Rebound After Banking Troubles
Giving yourself a fresh start.

When Do Your Gift Cards Expire?
Checking the fine print.

5 Great Reasons to Carry a Hotel Credit Card
Extra perks that make it worthwhile.

Lawmakers may kill this popular retirement tax break for the wealthy
Say goodbye to the “stretch IRA”?

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Should you use miles to book holiday travel? Also in the news: How one woman paid off $51K of debt, 4 times it actually makes sense to buy miles, and what to do first when you get a raise.

Should You Use Miles to Book Holiday Travel?
Good idea? Or waste of rewards?

How I Ditched Debt: From ‘Extravagantly Broke’ to Comfortably Frugal
How one woman paid off $51K of debt in less than three years.

4 Times It Actually Makes Sense to Buy Miles
A few compelling reasons.

What to Do First When You Get a Raise
Don’t leave it to chance.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to rack up points and miles with everyday spending. Also in the news: What to buy and skip in October, how to catch up on your savings, and why consumer instant gratification can prove risky.

How to Rack Up Points and Miles With Everyday Spending
Piling up miles wherever you go.

October is the Month to Buy Jeans, Grills and More

Behind on Your Savings? You’re Not Alone
There’s time to catch up.

Consumer instant gratification can prove risky
Staying within your means.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to buy a house without help from your family. Also in the news: What Walmart’s upgraded cards have in store for shoppers, the cheapest ways to fly to Disney World using points and miles, and how to boost your savings post-Fed interest rates cuts.

How to Buy a House Without Help From Your Family
Doing it on your own.

What Walmart’s Upgraded Cards Have In Store for Shoppers
Better perks are coming.

Cheapest Ways to Fly to Disney World Using Points and Miles
How to play the rewards game.

The Fed just cut interest rates. Here’s how to boost your savings
Time to shop around.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: In the points and miles game, blind loyalty can cost you. Also in the news: The best mortgage lenders with no origination fee, how a personal loan affects your credit score, and how thinking like an optimist could help you save more.

In the Points and Miles Game, Blind Loyalty Can Cost You
You could end up losing the points game.

Best Mortgage Lenders with No Origination Fee of 2019
They’re not easy to find.

How Does a Personal Loan Affect Your Credit Score?
A chance to improve your score.

To Save More, Think Like an Optimist
The saving power of positive thinking.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How your tax refund could improve your credit. Also in the news: 5 smart ways to invest your tax refund, how the Apple Card stacks up against the competition, and how moving between states could raise or lower your tax burden.

How your tax refund could improve your credit
Using your refund strategically.

5 Smart Ways to Invest Your Tax Refund
Your refund could help fund your future.

How the Apple Card Stacks up Against the Competition
Comparing features.

Will Moving Between States Raise or Lower Your Tax Burden?
Dramatic swings in both directions.





How to score luxury travel for less

Let’s shatter one myth right now: Airline passengers typically can’t talk their way into upgrades from the cheapest coach seats to first class just by dressing up and asking politely.

Travel providers usually save their best experiences — comfortable seats, spacious hotel suites, quick check-in lines — for those willing to pay more. When upgrades are handed out for free, the goodies typically go to frequent travelers who spend a lot with those providers.

There are ways, however, of getting a much better travel experience without paying top dollar.

In my latest for the Associated Press, a few approaches to consider if you want to make your next trip a little more luxurious.