Money Minute: United Airlines Changes Rewards Program


United Airlines is changing the way it doles out frequent flier miles, and it may hurt many travelers.

How many reward miles you rack up at United (UAL) will no longer depend on the number of miles you fly, but on how much you spend for those flights. United Club members will get five miles for every dollar spent, and premier-level fliers will get 7 to 11 miles for each dollar spent. The change takes effect next March. Earlier this year, Delta Air Lines (DAL) made a similar change to its frequent flier plan. Some consumer finance experts say these changes reduce the value of frequent flier rewards for people who shop for travel bargains.

There were more jobs available in April than at any time in seven years. The Labor Department says job openings totaled 4.5 million, up from 4.2 million the month before. However, businesses aren't necessarily rushing to fill those openings. The number of people hired in April was little changed from March.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Of course, more jobs is good news for people who are out of work, but this isn't: House Democrats say more than 3 million Americans have stopped receiving unemployment benefits because the Republican led House refused to take up a bill to extend those payments. Last year, Congress cut the number of weeks that someone could receive jobless benefits to 73, and then at the end of 2013, the maximum dropped to 26 weeks. About 72,000 additional people lose their benefits each week. By the government count, there are 3.4 million people who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks. That is what's considered long-term unemployment.

Wall Street on Tuesday, the three major averages closed within 3 points of where they began the day. Still, the The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) eked out a fourth straight record high.

Finally, (AMZN) is reportedly preparing to launch a new operation focusing on local services. Reuters says it could help you locate plumbers, babysitters and other service providers in your neighborhood -- and present a major challenge to Angie's List (ANGI), Yelp (YELP) and others.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.