Best South African Banks for Airport Lounge Access

Best South African Banks for Airport Lounge Access

We like to to travel but we definitely don’t like sitting at the departure gate on uncomfortable chairs with screaming children playing hide-and-seek.  Although some travellers love the hustle and bustle of airports, chances are that if you’re a frequent traveller the one thing you’d love before your flight departs is an hour or two of peace and quiet.

Access to airport lounges used to be a privilege only a few – with a business-class ticket in hand, of course – enjoyed.  Certain banks and financial institutions provide access to the lounges for free and some require you to jump a number of hurdles (or in bank parlance, ‘qualifying criteria’) before you can gain access.

Here are the best banks and accounts for airport lounge access – and the worst.

FNB and RMB

RMB and FNB Private Clients

RMB and FNB are both connected to the awful eBucks program which means you have to earn rewards in order to gain access to the lounges. Even as a RMB Private Bank client you don’t get free access to the airport lounges. The real annoying part of their rewards system is that you never know what level you are on. The airport lounges are not connected to the bank so when you swipe your card at the lounge they can’t tell you if you have earned enough rewards points to gain free access. They just swipe your card and you go in. It’s when you get home when you get the shock, because they then charge you for the access. You thought it was free. Nope. Neither FNB or RMB offer a credit card that offers free local or international lounge access.

Verdict: Terrible (change your bank)

Standard Bank

World Citizen Credit Card

The top Standard Bank credit card is called the World Citizen Credit Card.  You need to spend R15,000 per quarter to get complimentary access to over 500 airport lounges within SA and abroad, through their chosen partner, LoungeKey

Verdict: Bad

Diners Club

With Diners you need to spend R15,000 per quarter to get free access and the same rules/benefits as the Standard Bank World Citizen Credit Card.

Verdict: Bad

ABSA

Platinum Cheque Account

The ABSA Platinum cheque account offers an optional DragonPass membership, offering five free airport lounge visits per 12-month cycle at R59 per month.

Verdict: Terrible

ABSA Private Clients

6 visits (Only 6? Really?) per year to more than 800 airport lounges in over 300 cities across 100 countries affiliated to the DragonPass program.

Verdict: Bad

Nedbank

Platinum Card

Nedbank’s Platinum Card provides free access to the Bidvest Premier airport lounges for domestic flights only.

Verdict: Nothing to write home about

American Express Gold Charge Card

8 visits per year to the Bidvest Premier airport lounges for domestic flights only.

Verdict: Very average for Amex

American Express Platinum Charge Card

Amex Platinum Charge Card provides free access to over 900 local and international airport lounges in over 100 countries, with Priority Pass.

Verdict: Good (Because there are no other benefits to the Amex Platinum Card that’s comparable to a Private Banking offering.)

Investec

Investec Credit Card

Every Investec card holder has complimentary, unlimited access to SAA-owned Lounges and Bidvest Premier Lounges.

Verdict: Very Good

Investec Enigma Card

The Investec Enigma Card (SA’s own Black AMEX card) offers unlimited and free access to over 900 local and international airport lounges in over 100 countries, with Priority Pass.

Verdict: Excellent

Conclusion

Investec is the only bank that provides a really good airport lounge benefit to it’s card holders. Investec also offers a wide range of other benefits to card holders, which makes it a better choice than American Express. The great disappointment is RMB who have lost serious ground to Investec due to their complicated and terrible eBucks rewards program.

Private banking is definitely not what it used to be. There is very little special about it.

Which Countries Guarantee Drinkable Tap Water

Which Countries Guarantee Drinkable Tap Water

Bottled water is expensive but bad water can make you very ill and spoil your holiday. There are many countries where you can safely drink the tap water and then there are others where you just can’t take the risk. It’s important to note that just because you can drink your tap water that does not mean it’s safe for foreigners to drink it. We get used to our own water but it could very easily make someone else sick.

The guide from Danny Ashton at NeoMam Studios uses information gathered from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can see each continent with guaranteed safe countries in blue and potentially unsafe countries in brown, along with some tips for how you can avoid unsafe water. Keep in mind, potentially unsafe means that it could be harmful to drink if your system is not used to that environment, not necessarily that the water is polluted and dirty.

Visit Exotic Vacations for the ultimate family holiday to Mauritius, Zanzibar, Seychelles or Maldives.

Inforgraphic. Where its safe to drink tap water.

I am a European living in Africa

I am a European living in Africa

It was smack bang in the middle of winter 5 years ago that I embarked on an adventure I will never forget. The funny thing is that what I perceived as an adventure, millions of people experience as everyday life.

It was 4am on a bleak winters morning in the Joburg CBD. The city was already busy with taxis and pedestrians making their way. Unbelievable how noisy the city can be at that time of the morning. The roisterous taxis were hooting and the drivers shouting for passengers to get on board. The smog was hanging low over Eloff street as I made my way to Noord street, the biggest taxi rank in Jozi.

I was nervous. After all, I’m a white dude and as out-of-place as a missile in a bathtub. It seemed as if everyone was looking at me. Staring. Thinking about it now I think they were. But I was keeping my eyes on the dirty sidewalk, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone.

Noord street taxi rank is a huge, sprawling, bustling hive of activity with hundreds, no, maybe thousands of taxis lined up to move passengers around the 600 square miles of metropolitan Joburg. Smog town. It could be the title of a low budget horror movie.

To be a pedestrian here is either to be bold or to be poor.

My adventure was to get a taxi from Noord street to Orlando in Soweto where I would spend the two nights with a friend. The next day I would catch a train from Soweto back to Jozi and walk to Noord street taxi rank to catch a taxi to Sandton.

Why in gods name would any self respecting white dude do this? Because I wanted to experience life as the majority of our population experience it, every day. I know, two days is nothing compared to a lifetime, but this was my opportunity to try and connect with my fellow citizens.

Little did I know how absolutely profound this experience was going to be. Thinking back, this was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had. I’d rather do this again than climbing Mount Everest.

I eventually found the correct taxi. It was a mission. Everything is foreign. But for the regular travelers it’s as easy and obvious as us whiteys driving to Woolies in the Prado. Once in the taxi you wait until it’s filled up. And man oh man can they fill it up. I stopped counting at 15 because I was concentrating too hard on trying to breathe. I was convinced that if they squeeze one more person into the taxi it would burst open like a ripe peach.

Noord Street Taxi Rank
Noord Street Taxi Rank

The taxi drove off, direction Soweto. The first thing I noticed was how happy everyone was. Laughing, joking and chatting as if they were on their way to a family holiday in the Maldives. You pay the taxi fare by handing the cash to the person in front of you. They then pass it forward to the passenger in the front seat who keeps the money for the driver. Incidentally when the front passenger got in the taxi he fastened his seatbelt and the driver said; “You’re not in your mothers car”.

The taxi stopped anywhere. On yellow lines, in front of fire hydrants, in the middle of intersections. Anywhere. I eventually understood that he picks up passengers wherever he could to keep the taxi full. It wasn’t like he was some recidivist anarchist in a Mad Max movie. It was all business.

Kota
Kota. Township bunny chow.

We arrived in Orlando Soweto and I climbed out. I was in the heart of the largest black city in Africa. Not a white face to be seen. But, nobody cared. I was invisible. The smell of Kota drifted through the air. Kota is basically mince and mash. Think of the kota as an evolving township street food burger. R10 bought me a plate full of divine tastes. I chowed my Kota-looks-like-bunny-chow while watching the people bustle past. I was starting to get into this. Frankly I was surprised that I hadn’t been robbed yet. I was invisible.

The map to my friends place was easy to follow. I was still not comfortable enough not to constantly look over my shoulder, expecting to see a gang of tsotsis following me. No one followed me though. I was walking in Soweto, a white guy. Alone. And I was ok.

After 45 minutes I arrived at the house. It was a pleasant little face brick house opposite a school. Kids were playing on the field. Innocent was waiting for me at the gate. His toothy smile made me feel welcome immediately. “You made it” he said, with a hint of surprise in his voice.

I was introduced to his family. They had all dressed up for the occasion, waiting in the lounge. It was almost formal, like being introduced to the royal household. Nkgono (grandmother) was last. Eight people lived in the same house. A two bedroom house a little bigger than my own bedroom.

I learned that they were the lucky ones. Grandma receives a pension because her husband worked on the the railways for many years before he passed away. At the end of the month everyone put their money together to pay for food and other living expenses. Everything is shared. Millions of others cannot afford a house and they live in shacks made from plastic and corrugated metal sheets. Millions don’t have running water or electricity.

We spent the evening eating and talking and grandma made a pot of tea. It was a delightful evening and I completely forgot that I was in the middle of a black township. While laying in bed I thought of the last time I was there. It was in 1983. The riots were everywhere and I was deployed to Soweto for a short stint in June 1983. I was a young policeman intent on defending the nation against the “rooi gevaar” (Communist invasion). Those were dark days. I was swept up in the almost religious like fevor of nationalism. Just like everyone else. I was fiercely patriotic and I genuinely though I was doing the right thing.

While laying in bed, listening to the sounds of Soweto, I remembered.

The next morning at 4am Innocent woke me up. Breakfast was ready. We ate quickly because it was a long trek to the train station. I was going back to Joburg and I was going to travel by train. Innocent and I left for the station and had to break into a slow jog because we were running late. We arrived at the station and bought my ticket. We said our goodbyes and I climbed the stairs to platform number 2. What a sight. There were literally thousands of people on the platform waiting for the train. I have never seen such a mass of people at a train station.

Singing on the train
Singing on the train

There was shouting and singing and selling and it was just totally overwhelming. For a typical Afrikaner boytjie like me, this was mind numbing. All of a sudden everyone started running to the other side of the platform. I didn’t know why and only later realised it’s because they never know on which railway line the train is going to arrive. So when they see the train arriving they have to move to the correct line. I ran with them. The train pulled in. There were people peeling out of the doors, people on the roof and in between the carriages. It was surreal. I was standing back, waiting to see what was going to happen because there was a huge crowd in front of the one door. The doors opened and the crowd pushed forward like a wave as bodies pushed up against each other.

I had no idea how all these people were going to get on the train. Impossible I thought, but most of them did. They squeezed and pushed and pushed some more. Eventually I was in the middle of the thriving thong of bodies pushing and I was pushed into the train. Many couldn’t get on but they helped to push the others in.

In the train I was standing with my hands pinned to my sides, chest to chest and face to face with a crowd of people. Squashed together like jalapenos in a jar. It was difficult to breathe. I tried to look around but couldn’t move my neck more than 90 degrees. I immediately noticed how relaxed everyone was. I was the only one freaking out. They did this every day. It was kak hot in that train and I was sweating like a pig.

The train started to move and I really didn’t think I was going to survive the trip. I was either going to die of asphyxiation or I was going to fall down and trampled to death. I imagined that no-one would ever find my body. Destined to travel from Soweto to Joburg and back for eternity.

Then the singing started. It was incredible and took my mind off my desperate thoughts. If you’re claustrophobic don’t ever try this. The singing grew louder and the sides of the train were used as impromptu drums. The beat was hypnotic. The singing was out of this world. I noticed then that all the people in the carriage were Zulu. I found out later that Zulus and Xhosas don’t travel in the same carriages. There is intense tribal and cultural conflict between them and they stick to themselves. They just don’t mingle.

The food vendors were moving around the carriage, under people and sometimes climbing over them. They travel these trains every day and all day selling cigarettes, sandwiches and sweets.

Then the smell hit me. Joints were being passed around and everyone was smoking dagga (cannabis).The smoke spread thought the carriage until I couldn’t see a thing. The singing became louder and louder and the drums kept the rhythm. I was in a daze. It was an incredible experience. I don’t have the skill to communicate the sensory experience of standing in that train, stuffed full of people, singing with one voice.

We arrived in Park Station and climbed off the train. I think I breathed properly for the first time since the start of the journey and stood on the platform for at least ten minutes trying to focus my mind. The crowds rushed past me while I tried to make sense of the past hour.

It was then that I realized that the cultural gap between white people and black people is enormous. In fact it’s a chasm so wide that it will be nearly impossible to cross. The differences between us are fundamental and very deeply rooted in long and colorful, divergent histories.

It was there, at Park Station that I realized that I could truly appreciate another culture but that I am what I am. I am not black. I am not an African. No matter that this is the country of my birth, I am nothing but an immigrant. I will never be an African and I will never be accepted as an African, by the indigenous Africans.

The white people that think that because their ancestors came to Africa a few hundred years ago that makes them Africans are delusional. We are Europeans living in Africa. It’s really as simple as that. We can live here and contribute here and we can even make a difference here, but we are not from here.

Once you make that mind shift it becomes easier to understand. Stop trying to turn black people into Europeans. They are not. Stop measuring them against your own expectations.  Our genetics are European. That is where we belong.

I am not African. I am a European living in Africa.

Cyril’s Balls are in a Jar in Nkandla

Cyril’s Balls are in a Jar in Nkandla

The whole affair was almost surreal. It was supposed to be full of pomp and ceremony and a celebration of one of the most important events in the history of our democracy. Few items on the national calendar are more important than elections. It was the night that our democracy would be celebrated as the results of the 2016 Municipal Elections were revealed.

It started out slow. A kind of melancholy hung over the audience. Oupa Gwede was stumbling around in his WWII era coat whispering in this ear and that ear. Shuffling up and down the aisles, purposeless. The dignitaries were seated. The big game breeder sat down with a look of utter displacement on his face. It was like he was attending some ceremony in a foreign country listening to people speak in some foreign language. No doubt he would rather have been at home counting his billions while sipping 1962 Dalmore Single Highland Malt at $20,000 a bottle.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng sat silently to the right of the big game breeder with eyes almost shut. Perhaps thinking that if he can’t see them, then they can’t see him. He faked a yawn. In fact everything was fake.

The Big Kahuna floated in with an entourage the size of Gadaffi’s minus the Amazonian warrior women. Another fake smile and the big cheese sat down next to the Last Fallen Saviour turned big game breeder and Bon Viveur.

The speeches rambled on and the bleakness swallowed the hall like the black mist over the Thames.

The chief philanderer stepped up to the stage and cleared his throat. And then it happened. Four women dressed in black stood up in front of Zuma and faced the audience with simple, hand written signs to protest against his acquittal of rape 10 years ago. It was a silent protest. A very powerful protest. Probably the most powerful protest in the history of modern politics that will be talked about for many years to come.

The big cheese continued demonstrating his masterful oratory skills unwittingly. He didn’t know what this was all about, but to be fair, he seldom knows what is happening around him as demonstrated by the klap he got in these elections.

The women stood directly in front of our beloved big game whiskey drinker and our almost asleep (faking it) Chief Justice. They looked at these women in utter disbelief. Whispers were everywhere. No one even really noticed the red overall clad cleaning crew leaving the house.

No one even really noticed the red overall clad cleaning crew leaving the house.

In minutes the speech was over and if you had to ask anyone afterwards if they could remember one word the Zuma said, you wouldn’t find one. All eyes were on these brave women with their impromptu display of courage. It will be a defining moment in the career of – no, not JZ but Cyril Ramaphosa. Our second in charge.

It was the moment when his utter lack of leadership skills was exposed. The moment when the whole world realized that this eunuch left his balls in a jar at Nkandla. It was the moment when a real leader would have stood up and taken charge of a truly disastrous situation by quietly interrupting the speech and then by approaching the women and spoken to them. A true leader would have told them that their protest had been noticed and that he would be glad to meet with them personally to discuss their grievances.

The world has witnessed a Putinesque reactionary response in the gaping void left by the absence of true leadership.

A true leader would have quietly walked them out, showing real interest in their story. A true leader would have done the right thing. Instead a bunch of thugs rounded them up like cattle and pushed and shoved them out, in full view of the entire world. A defining moment where true leadership could have made all the difference. The world has witnessed a Putinesque reactionary response in the gaping void left by the absence of true leadership.

There was not one leader in the house. Perhaps he walked out with the cleaning staff.

Religious fanaticism and Racism make nasty bedfellows

Let me introduce you to one of South Africa’s most vile citizens, Mr. Andre M Slade, the owner of the Sodwana Bay Guest House. This guy has a few screws loose and it seems the lift does not go all the way to the top. Seriously Andre M Slade, why don’t you just emigrate to Somalia or something? We don’t need scum like you in our country.

Enki 1
Uber Asshole –  Andre M Slade.

 

Cape Town – Following the most recent online exposé of racism in South Africa – this time involving the Sodwana Bay Guest House’s refusal to accept black patrons – the Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday spoke out, castigating both the guesthouse owner and all others guilty of discrimination.

“I wish to use this opportunity to state again that racism, and its bedfellows – homophobia, sexism, and religious intolerance – have no place in our democratic society,” said DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

sodwana-1
Email sent by Andre M Slade

Andre Slate, the owner of Sodwana Bay Guest House, stated in an email that they “do not accommodate blacks or government employees any longer”.

Andre Slate is not only a religious fanatic but also a unapologetic racist. People like him should not be allowed to own or run a tourism business in South Africa.

“These incidents undermine and derail the difficult yet necessary project of building a fair and reconciled South Africa.”

Maimane was responding to news of Sodwana Bay Guest House owner André Slade’s admission his accommodation would no longer accept “blacks or government employees”. Slade – a self-proclaimed segregationist – was replying to a booking request for 12 people from a Sizakele Msimango.

Following Slade’s refusal, Msimango took to social media to make public the guesthouse’s bigoted policy. Soon after, over 5 000 users were discussing “Sodwana Bay Guest House” on Facebook while related tweets continued to be posted throughout the day.

Since, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has confirmed it will investigate the matter which Maimane welcomed, saying that should the SAHRC “act expeditiously”, it would “send a clear message to racists and those who engage in racist behaviour that their harmful and hateful actions are not welcome in South Africa”.

The Star newspaper also acted on Msimango’s posting on Thursday, calling Slade to hear his side of the story. With this opportunity, Slade confirmed his position on the matter, adding that the South African Constitution was “Satan’s law”.

Separate, later attempts to contact Slade and his colleagues were unsuccessful as all known numbers were unavailable.

Aside from his most recent racist rantings, Slade has previously spewed his views online, on his blog “wheretofromhere.org”. Here, Slade made mention of Maimane, calling him a “beast” and “little bastard”.

Slade has also released a free-to-download book, “Where to from here”, which was co-authored by Slade’s “equal opposite” Katarina Križáni, the guesthouse manager.

The Pretoria-born 52-year-old Slade and the 27-year-old Slovak Križáni are allegedly believers in – among other alternative systems – the Ancient Mesopotamian myth of Inanna and Enki which forms the basis of their thoughts on race and civilisation.

I sincerely hope that every right thinking and decent South African distance themselves from this kind of atrocious behavior. We don’t have any place in South Africa for people like this.

Online Bank Fraud Crisis – Check your security status.

shutterstock_177915284-750x420Online banking fraud is on the increase. Fraudsters send emails to you and entice you on social media to click on links so that they can capture your online banking login details. Typically you will be told that you have to click on a link in order to update your settings or whatever.
 
To stop falling victim to this scam, don’t ever click on a link that purports to take you to your online banking. Just don’t click on any links. Rather open your browser and type in the URL to your online banking. All the major banks recently launched a Fraud Security Status Check that evaluates your potential of falling victim to online banking fraud.
 
To check your Fraud Security Status at your online banking you can follow these links.

White Capital is not the great evil. It’s the great savior

MJS_9796b_w
Photo: Marthinus Strydom

By now we all understand the concept of white privilege and white capital. Every second article in the press are about these two topics, and although it’s important to talk about these things it’s much more important to find solutions to our economic woes. There is huge disparity. Nobody can deny that. The majority of South Africans still live in poverty after 22 years of democracy.

The problem is how to fix it. The victim-hood narrative is not achieving anything. In fact it is polarizing our nation even more along racial lines. The constant appeals for a deeper social understanding of the psyche of black and whites is not going to bear any fruit in the short term. There are white racists and there are black racists. It will take many, many years to change the hearts and minds of racists. It won’t happen in my lifetime.

What can happen though is the exponential upliftment of the poor. This can happen. Look what Japan achieved after the Second World War. It is possible.

The way that South Africans can win the day, is to channel all this negative and divisive energy into creating a better future. This can only be achieved through economic growth. The first democratically elected government was the first step. The economic upliftment of the country is the second step. It is with this step that the country is failing miserably. The policies of our government are the single most important factor preventing us from achieving the equality most people seek. This sounds very much like the EFF strategy, you think. Far from it. Where the EFF calls for redistribution, I call for wealth creation through capitalism.

Capitalism is not the evil here. White capital is not the enemy here. Instead these could be the tools that can empower and uplift the rest of the country. But instead of using it effectively, blacks want to tear it down and destroy it, because it represents all that is evil.

It is exactly here that I have a problem with the mind-set of many black people. The calls for redistribution and the policies of the current government are at the core of the problem. You cannot economically uplift an entire nation by robbing Peter to pay Paul. You can sit in a hundred seminars and not achieve a thing unless you address the core issue.

Money is the core issue.

  1. Access to proper education is the key. But what is the government doing? It’s a disaster. Schools are in disarray. Education is a total mess. How can we even hope to grow economically if we don’t have the skilled labor force to do the work effectively? How can we grow businesses without trained and skilled leaders?
  2. Create businesses. Create entrepreneurs. Thousands of them. First educate them and then give them access to capital. White money will be invested in black businesses if those businesses will succeed. At the moment they don’t succeed. They can’t get funding because they don’t have any skills. They don’t have the knowledge and training to run businesses effectively. It’s understandable that they don’t succeed. Black entrepreneurs cannot get access to funding. Even highly skilled and trained black entrepreneurs are not able to get funding, because it is not a priority of the government. Change that and we will have tens of thousands of businesses in SA that thrive and compete internationally and, most importantly, create employment and economically uplift the masses.
  3. Economic upliftment happens when we earn money and we are able to lift ourselves out of our circumstance. As unpalatable as it may sound, if blacks took all the white capital tomorrow and chased every single white person into the ocean, within a few years most of the money will be gone and any chance of a wealthy future for this country will be lost. Not because blacks are somehow incapable, but because they do not have the experience and training of “white privilege”. We now need to “create” instead of just consuming.

This can be done in my lifetime. There is nothing that will uplift the moral of black people as much as financial independence. And that is the crux of the matter. Blacks can complain about the past and about the inequalities and about white privilege for years to come, but that in itself will not change anything.

We need to become competitive and the current socialist attitudes of our leaders need to be replaced by hard-core capitalist motivation – for the good of the nation.

In this world there are many injustices. Black South Africans are not the only ones that have had a tough time. The Jews and Japanese are prime examples of people that fought economically instead of militarily. Their battle was to create wealth and employment. They won because their leaders had the political will to drive the correct agenda and they had a workable strategy. But their strategy was not redistribution but sustainable economic growth through business.

We can do the same. We need intelligent, educated and savvy black people to stand up and drive the economic agenda.

Capitalism is not the great evil. It’s the great savior.