What the experts say
Rental car damage claims
Have you been hit with charges “for dings that you’re convinced weren’t there when you turned in the rental car?” asked Susan Tompor in the Detroit Free Press. For many rental-car users, the first time they discover charges for scrapes and other damage they don’t recall is when a collections agency contacts them. To prevent being ripped off, avoid returning your rental after hours—you’re ultimately responsible for any damage that happens before the rental office opens. If that’s impossible, take pictures to document your rental’s condition at drop-off. Before your trip, investigate your own car’s insurance policy, as it may cover rentals. Check your credit card too: “Some premium travel cards offer primary auto rental coverage.” And if you land a “super cheap” rental rate, understand exactly what you’re getting before driving off the lot.
How to shrink cred it card fees
If you’re seeking some respite from soaring credit card fees and interest rates, “all you have to do is ask,” said Jessica Dickler and Sharon Epperson in CNBC.com. A simple phone call to your card company can be “extremely effective in getting cut some slack.” About 84 percent of cardholders who called had their late-payment fees waived, according to CreditCards.com. Another 70 percent of callers had their annual fees dropped or reduced, and 56 percent received lower interest rates. “Despite a high chance of success overall, only a small number of cardholders are making each type of request,” mostly because many consumers “aren’t aware it’s an option.”
A new, postcard-size tax form
The Trump administration “has succeeded in its goal of shrinking the form that most Americans send to the IRS every year,” said Jim Tankersley in The New York Times. But “smaller is not necessarily simpler.” The new, “postcard-size” 1040 income tax form removes more than half of the 78 line items from the previous version and shrinks the form down from two full pages to a single, double-sided half-page. Yet the form itself remains “more complicated than ever.” A cluster of “popular deductions” have vanished, “including those for student loan interest and teaching supplies, forcing taxpayers to search for them—and tally them up—on one of six accompanying worksheets.” The good news: Some taxpayers could save time by simply omitting itemized deductions and opting for “the newly expanded standard deduction.”