Act now to claim bonus air miles

The Baltimore Sun

Here are some deadlines you don't want to miss:

Got frequent-flier miles? Book your flight before new fees kick in for using those miles.

Starting Aug. 6, US Airways will start charging $25 to use frequent-flier tickets within the United States and Canada, $35 for tickets to Mexico and the Caribbean, and $50 on Hawaii and international flights.

Delta Air Lines as of Aug.15 will tack on a $25 fee to destinations in the United States and Canada and $50 for all other international flights.

Northwest Airlines will add fees to its WorldPerks tickets issued in North America beginning Sept. 15. It will charge $25 for domestic travel, $50 for trans-Atlantic trips and $100 for trans-Pacific flights. (Northwest's CEO says these fees are temporary and will be reviewed if fuel prices come down.)

American Airlines is making changes to its award program. Starting in October, it will increase the miles you need for tickets to certain destinations.

George Horbica, founder of, says now is the deadline to arrange flights for the December holidays and next year's spring break. The cost of travel is unlikely to come down between now and then, he says, and you need to book early if you want popular flight times and a good seat.

* Free credit monitoring. Sept.24th is the deadline for eligible consumers to register for up to nine months of free credit monitoring from TransUnion.

The freebie is the result of a class action lawsuit filed years ago and settled in May.

Plaintiffs accused TransUnion and Acxiom Corp. of violating state and federal laws by selling lists containing consumers' personal and financial information to outsiders pitching credit and insurance. The companies denied any wrongdoing.

To be eligible for free credit monitoring, you must have had an open credit account or line of credit from a U.S. credit grantor any time from Jan. 1, 1987, to May 28th of this year. That's a pretty broad category. According to the settlement notice, you're eligible if you had a credit card, auto loan, mortgage or student loan in the past 10 years.

The settlement is worth at least $75 million. That will cover the cost of credit monitoring, a donation to nonprofits, lawyers' fees and possible payments to individuals who file lawsuits on their own. If there's cash left over, it will be distributed to consumers who registered for payments.

You have a few options under the settlement.

For instance, you can take six months of free credit monitoring - worth about $60 - that will allow you to block lenders from seeing your report and entitle you to unlimited daily access to your TransUnion credit report and score. Plus, you can sign up to get a cash distribution if there's any money left over in the settlement.

Or, you can choose nine months of credit monitoring that comes with extra perks. This is worth about $115. But under this option, you forfeit the right to get a cash payment and to sue the companies.

Register online at by Sept. 24th to receive free credit monitoring. That's also the deadline if you want to register online or by mail to receive any potential cash payout. (Don't hold your breath on the cash. The settlement notice says it will be at least two years after all the dust settles before it's known whether there is enough money to disburse to consum- ers.)

For more information, call 866-416-3470. Or, e-mail your questions to or write to List Class Action Settlement, PO Box 6336, Portland, OR 97228-6336.

* Tax rebates. I still get the occasional call from a reader just now hearing about tax rebates or who didn't realize he or she needed to file a tax return to get one. You must file a tax return by Oct. 15th to get your rebate this year. Miss the deadline, and you will have to wait until next year to claim the rebate on your 2008 tax return.

There is still a lot of confusion about these payments being made to stimulate the economy.

Rebates range from $300 to $600 for an individual; $600 to $1,200 for married couples. Parents with young children can receive $300 per child.

You must have at least $3,000 in qualifying income to be eligible. Rebates start phasing out once income tops $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for married couples.

The IRS has been reaching out to retirees and disabled veterans who normally don't file a return. Call 800-829-1040 for IRS locations offering free tax preparation help.

George Hobica's name was misspelled in Eileen Ambrose's column in Business on Tuesday.The Sun regrets the errors.
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