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We pity the poor concierges who had to respond to these questions.

By Karen Datko May 21, 2010 2:16PM

Will your credit card's concierge service really change your hotel reservation, extend your stay and (gasp!) have a real person on the other end of the line when you call with your request?

Oh, yes, and so much more, it appears. (That's good to know because this kind of service is becoming increasingly common.) In fact, John Hargrave wrote about how he put his credit card concierge service to the ultimate test in a guest post at The Blog of Tim Ferriss, the four-hour workweek man. To do so, Hargrave submitted five "incredibly ridiculous requests."


It takes 10 minutes a day to brush and floss. Doing so can save you thousands of dollars, a lot of pain and, oh yeah, your teeth.

By Donna_Freedman May 21, 2010 12:27PM
I haven't had dental insurance for three years. Fortunately, my sister is a dental hygienist with an understanding boss. Thus I get twice-yearly cleanings and annual X-rays, and even the new toothbrush and the travel-sized Sensodyne.

What about all the insurance-less folks who don't have a friend in the business? My sister has two words for them:  

About 50 million American adults don't have enough credit data to generate a regular credit score.

By Karen Datko May 21, 2010 11:14AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


How can you build credit when you have no credit? We've received this question from several readers recently. Some want to know how to build credit without a credit card, or how to build credit without getting a loan.

Until recently, the answer to these questions was simple --you can't. The three major credit-reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) all collect information on repayment of credit cards, car loans, mortgages, and other forms of debt. If you've never borrowed money, you don't have a credit score or history. Here's why.


Wal-Mart won't make you scream to get free ice cream, but you'll have to RSVP if you want a free Chick-fil-A sandwich.

By Teresa Mears May 21, 2010 10:10AM

Thank goodness it's Friday and time for Friday food deals and freebies.


Some of last week's deals are still good, including Taco Bell's $2 meals, a promotion that's likely to last for a while.

Wal-Mart is celebrating the "Joy of Ice Cream" Saturday, May 22, something we certainly agree is worth celebrating. During the event, you can get a free ice cream sundae while supplies last. The store will offer Breyers and Blue Bunny ice cream and frozen yogurt, with Hershey's chocolate syrup, Reddi-wip and fresh strawberries. Most stores will celebrate from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but you can check the hours for your local store here.


Angry consumers have found creative ways to seek satisfaction from companies that have mistreated them.

By Karen Datko May 21, 2010 8:36AM

This guest post comes from "vh" at Funny about Money.


The other day, Budgeting in the Fun Stuff remarked on Frugal Scholar's rant about the excruciating customer service emanating from Virgin Mobile. Both bloggers asked readers which corporations are best and worst in the customer (dis)service department.

Apparently, they touched a hot button. They each got a slew of responses. Among them, we see that Comcast is roundly hated. Free Money Finance is locked in combat with that worthy organization -- as his saga unfolds, it's hard to tell whether Comcast is merely incompetent or deliberately obnoxious.


Later, what should I hear on NPR but this interesting story. It suggests a new tool for hacking through thickets of bad customer service, at least in some instances:


Most people don't overdraw their bank accounts, so why should they sign up for overdraft protection?

By Karen Datko May 20, 2010 8:42PM

People hate paying bank overdraft fees -- you know, the $35 the bank slaps on you when that cup of coffee you bought with your debit card exceeds the amount in your account. Most people would rather have their debit card denied instead.

They'll soon get their wish. Beginning this summer, banks can no longer charge overdraft fees unless customers "opt in" for what's long been inappropriately called overdraft "protection." Under new federal rules, banks can no longer automatically enroll you without your consent.


Banks made an estimated $38 billion on overdraft fees last year, so -- watch out, folks -- they're coming up with incentives to get customers to sign up. One of those incentives is a reduction in overdraft fees.


If you opt in, that $2.50 cup of coffee will now cost you an extra $10, rather than $35 or so.


Greek debt crisis is keeping U.S. rates lower than expected, but rates won't stay below 5% forever.

By Teresa Mears May 20, 2010 1:12PM

Remember all those predictions that mortgage rates would rise above 6% in 2010?


So far this year, the trend has been just the opposite. Rates on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell again this week, to an average 4.84%, the lowest rate this year.

We're back to flirting with historic lows, perhaps harking as far back as the 1950s.


Thank the Greeks.


Kelly Clarkson, the show's first winner, has probably earned about $40 million. Many who didn't win the top prize are doing very well.

By Karen Datko May 20, 2010 12:24PM

Just how much of a boost is the iconic TV show "American Idol" to the financial success of formerly unknown performers? It's big, according to a report by CBS MoneyWatch.


"You can rest on having been on 'American Idol' for years," Joel Peresman, CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, told MoneyWatch.

Of course, lasting fame and fortune are not guaranteed. For some, the trappings of winning -- a recording contract and instant celebrity -- didn't produce huge earnings -- but that's OK, too. "Ten years after finishing as a runner-up to Kelly Clarkson in the show's first season, curly-haired Justin Guarini is still doing live events and parades that likely earn him thousands of dollars a pop," MoneyWatch says.


Here's our abbreviated rundown of earnings compiled by CBS MoneyWatch for a post called "American Idol's biggest winners":



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