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The Bargain Corner

A Discount Card Blitz

June 22, 1986|JACK ADLER

Variations in the kinds of discount card programs available continue to emerge. Some companies have more than one entry in this area.

To illustrate, American Leisure Industries has both Encore and Short Notice Go-Cards.

With the Encore card, which costs $36 a year, you and a guest sharing a room can get the second night free at 1,900 hotels, and modest discounts (10% or more) on some tours, cruises and car rentals. You also get cash rebates when you book through your Encore card, plus participation in the company's own frequent flyer program. A Family Card, available for an extra $12, provides a second card with the same benefits.

In addition, you have access to a toll-free number providing information and membership services, flight insurance and a magazine. However, you have to call Encore long-distance in Maryland at your own expense to book any particular program.

On a Family Basis

Moreover, the discounts that come through Encore are not of the deep-discount type usually found with distress merchandise. To get these larger discounts, which you can usually take advantage of only when you travel on short notice, you can obtain the company's Short Notice Go-Card. This card, which can be bought separately, is on a family basis (with discounts applying to all members of the family living in the household) and costs $36 a year.

Deeper discounts, for example, might get you savings of 15%-67% off packages and 25%-65% off cruises. The company claims an average 42% savings.

To get information about offerings, you have to call a hot-line number, at your own expense, which is also in Maryland. The hot-line tape, updated daily, is available around the clock.

If you find something you like, you can call a toll-free reservation number with your arrangements made through travel agents who can provide counseling (including what the regular price is) and make your booking. Most of the trips are from major departure cities, and the agents attempt to find the best air fares for you. However, the time factor may not allow you to get the lowest available air fare, due to advance purchase and other restrictions.

Tickets in the Mail

Purchases on both cards are made through credit cards. Time permitting, tickets are mailed to you. If sent by overnight delivery, this would be at your expense.

The same company also has a Villas of the World program whereby for $60 a year you get 20%-25% discounts off various resorts and private villas around the world.

Contact: American Leisure Industries at (800) 638-0930.

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