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Ask Peter: Earning Miles, Choosing a Travel Agent & More

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Last week, we threw a Twitter party to tackle your end-of-summer travel dilemmas. And boy, did you have questions and problems to solve. Today, in his Ask Peter column, Peter looks at a few of the standout questions. Plus, as usual, he answers emails, tweets and Facebook posts.

Peter answers questions online every Travel Tuesday and on air every Saturday on his weekly Peter Greenberg Worldwide broadcast. You can call (1-888-88-PETER (1-888-887-3837)), email him (, tweet questions to @petersgreenberg (use #askPeter), or post questions on his Facebook page. Remember to leave your contact number if you want to talk to Peter on air for a real-time conversation (we all know how important they are) to solve your travel dilemma.

Keep reading to see this week’s answers!

Michelle ‏@momUNblogger asked: Do you think there is ever a good reason to engage a travel agent?

Yes! There are many good reasons to hire a travel agent. Sure, you can probably handle booking a simple vacation. But if you are booking a complicated itinerary or traveling with a large group, not only will a travel agent handle all of the logistics so nothing goes wrong, but often they have the relationships to be sure that you get the best rate.

Here’s the thing. Don’t just hire the first travel agent you find online. Hire one that is specialized for what you want to do. Look for operators that are members of the United States Tour Operators Association, the American Society of Travel Agents, or the National Tour Association, which means is they’re required to carry a certain amount of insurance and adhere to specific standards. Remember that if a company belongs to a member organization that doesn’t mean you’re protected. Call the company to vet them. You’ll want to know out how long they’ve been in business, whether they are licensed and how much insurance they carry.

For more information on vetting a travel agent, check out Peter’s Tip on How to Check Out a Travel Agent.

Flying AirplaneAmyI tweeted: @PeterSGreenberg which is best day to purchase tickets on?

Peter replied: You probably know that you save money flying midweek, well you also save money if you BOOK your flight midweek. The common wisdom is that airlines tend to raise their fares Friday and bring them back down on Monday. So Wednesday is the day to book, but it’s not just any Wednesday. Book your flight after the 7th of every month, as booking is busier right after payday on the first and 15th.

Find out why Wednesday is the sweet spot for booking tickets in Peter’s analysis.

@GratefulHoops tweeted: I’d love to have a card that earns points but I don’t really understand how it works

Peter offered this answer: We all want the best credit card to get travel miles, but that might not be the best card to travel with. You don’t want to spend unnecessarily on a card with heavy fees and high interest rates just to rack up points. Also, you have to factor in how easy it is to redeem those points. Often, it is harder than you may expect if a credit card is affiliated directly with a particular airline frequent flier program.

Instead of airline miles, I recommend a card that is redeemable for money that they can then apply to buy you a ticket. Capital One’s venture card, American Express, and Chase have a similar program.

If you’ve got 20,000 miles or 25,000 miles on a regular frequent-flier card affiliated with an airline, you are eligible to get a free round-trip domestic ticket. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. However, with the Capital One venture card, if you have 20,000 miles, that translates into $200 that you can then use to purchase a ticket and there are no blackout dates.

Before you make your final card selection, read the fine print to see if there are foreign conversion fees for overseas transactions overseas. Watch out because even a 1 to 3 percent fee adds up.

For more information, arm yourself with Peter’s Travel Tip on the Fine Print on Reward Cards.

By Peter Greenberg for Peter Greenberg Worldwide