Airline credit cards are getting a much-needed makeover

The Week Staff

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:

End-of-the-year tax checklist
Now is the time to make moves to lower your tax bill, said Laura Saunders at The Wall Street Journal. Many filers are still getting used to the new rules following the 2017 tax overhaul. At the top of many tax advisers' to-do lists: "Check your withholding or estimated taxes." One more late-in-the-year project: setting up a solo 401(k) if you are self-employed. These plans have higher contribution limits than other tax-advantaged retirement accounts — generally $56,000 a year. You can fund your solo 401(k) for 2019 until Oct. 15, 2020. "But the plans must usually be set up by Dec. 31, 2019, even if contributions come later."

Two-tier pickups for airport Ubers
"Is there a good solution to the Uber crunch at airports?" asked Josh Barro at New York magazine. Because ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft require each driver to find "a specifically assigned passenger, rather than picking up whichever passenger the driver finds first," congestion is at an all-time high. More airports have now started to move Uber pickups to locations far from the terminals. At Los Angeles International, for instance, to hail an Uber you first need to take a shuttle bus — with some wait times reportedly as long as the flights themselves. But LAX is also testing out a two-tier pricing strategy. If you want to take a standard UberX, Lyft, or taxi, hop on the shuttle. "But if you call an Uber Black car or Uber SUV," which are more expensive, you can get picked up at the terminal. "Uber Black was already about twice the cost of UberX, and the price gap may only grow."

Airline credit cards improve
With better bonuses and new perks, airline credit cards are getting a much-needed makeover, said Eric Rosen at Bloomberg. After getting left in the dust by rewards cards in recent years, airline-sponsored plastic is making "an aggressive bid to attract" travelers. The United Explorer card from Chase now earns two miles for every dollar spent at hotels and restaurants on top of "airline-specific perks like free checked bags." Delta's Reserve card from American Express caters more to the frequent flier — it is "adding access to Amex's excellent Centurion lounges and boosting earning bonuses" to three points per dollar — for a fee of $550 per year. But the Blue Delta SkyMiles American Express is "attractive enough for relatively new and infrequent travelers," waiving foreign transaction fees and earning two points per dollar on restaurants.

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