I came across this post on a credit card-related site:

I guess people don’t even realize that CC transaction fees are already built into almost every price you see when you shop. I would gladly pay cash if I had the option of getting a cash price for goods. But, since this isn’t the case, I might as well earn my Amazon rewards money…

Actually, I find that – surprisingly – just about everyone is open to negotiation, from Best Buy reps to small stores (especially small stores, of course). It works very well on higher-priced items. For anything above $100 I start off by asking “what’s your price if I pay cash?” Oftentimes they will discount beyond the built-in 2-3% credit card fee just for my asking “What’s the best deal you can give me?” Seriously. This has saved us hundreds of dollars just last year.

Beware, though, only pay cash for expensive stuff if you have total confidence in the retailer and/or product.

I’ve used Expedia a couple of times for airfares and have found it to be cheaper than Travelocity. This made me get a bit lazy with my fact-checking when I was booking our Juan les Pins (Antibes) hotel. Without comparing the two sites I went straight to Expedia.ca. (Unfortunately I don’t know any other travel web sites that offer worldwide bookings and bill in Canadian dollars.)

So within 10 minutes we found a mid-range hotel that suited us and booked it (Best Western Astoria, 3 stars). We weren’t 100% sure we’d like it so we only booked 3 nights, hoping to extend the stay locally if it turned out to be okay (it was fine, we extended the stay as planned).

3 nights on Expedia came to CAD$491.58. Not sure what made me go to Travelocity after the fact, but glad I did. I found exactly the same hotel, but for CAD$325.89. This was actually the rate that Expedia was advertising, but upon checkout they added some taxes and service fees that brought up the total considerably. Travelocity’s rate explicitely stated that “all taxes and service charges are included” with the exception of local tax. (Local European taxes are typically 1-2 Euros per person per night).

At that point – about half an hour after placing the Expedia order – I did some quick math, and even with Expedia’s cancellation charge of CAD$56.82, we ended up paying about $110 less with Travelocity.

I used Travelocity 3 more times for hotel bookings during our European trip. I prefer their rates, selection and cancellation policy. They offer a short period when you can request a refund without penalty (haven’t tried it, but it says so). And a couple of times we got really good deals with them, but the catch is – they don’t last! Literally within 15 minutes they are gone.

Expedia, however, still offers better airfares so we used it for our return flight.

In the future I will always compare and shop around more. The results can be surprising!

We ordered our plane tickets 6 weeks in advance. Now, about 3 weeks before the flight our exact fare would cost us $146 more for 2 people ($73 each!).

I always felt that you can get a better deal buying the tickets right before the trip, sort of like the airlines would be desperate to sell any remaining seats, but this time it seems planning ahead paid off.

I often look for these online, hopefully they can help someone, too. Latest Victoria’s Secret catalogs came with two offers for 10% off. They will work for both US and Canada. Don’t forget to use AirMiles when shopping online (www.airmilesshops.ca). These codes won’t work for clearance, taxes and shipping.

  • SP75317 – 10 % off. Valid through April 13, 2007.
  • SP75473 – 10 % off. Valid through April 25, 2007.

I wanted to say “Thanks!” to Canadian Capitalist for the tip about asking for discounts. I got our Sympatico (high speed DSL internet) bill lowered to $29.99/month + tax, that’s down from $49.93! I didn’t even have to blackmail them. I didn’t dispute the 12-month contract but we don’t mind it for now. It will automatically expire in a year, and if I want to renew and go back to the lower rate, I’ll have to call in again.

If you ask them to match someone’s price, they’ll ask for the company name. But you can just call in and say – provided you’re OK with it – “I want to sign up for a 12-month contract if you lower my fee to $XX”. Their standard lowest contract is at $34.99 at the moment, but you can negotiate further. Be prepared for lots of uncomfortable silence while the operator types a lot. The entire call took 15 minutes with very limited dialog.