Pushing the grocery card

U.S. food prices rose 5.3 percent last year, with more hikes in store, said Kelli B. Grant in SmartMoney.com, and credit-card issuers are trying to entice you to put your “escalating grocery bills” on their “grocery store reward cards.” Promising “bonus points and cash-back rebates,” these cards may seem like a godsend for “cash-strapped consumers,” but “think twice” before signing up. While some cards “can help you save,” most of them have high interest rates and only reward you at a “narrow” choice of stores or on certain products. Cash rewards are generally better than points. But read the fine print—you’ll probably be better off “clipping a few coupons.”

The end of cheap flights

Air passengers should “plan on shelling out considerably more money” to fly, with fewer choices, says Jennifer Waters in MarketWatch. The shuttering of three airlines—ATA, Aloha, and Skybus—in one week is a harbinger of the “turbulent ride” ahead for passengers and airlines alike. Airlines are facing the potent combination of “soaring fuel prices and a limp economy,” and they are cutting flights and hiring to stay airborne. But cutting will only go so far, so expect surcharges for all sort of services, like checked bags and peanuts, and watch your frequent flier miles become increasingly “worthless.” Airlines will “tighten the screws,” so be prepared to “pony up.”