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Cash Cards For Travelers


It's fantasy baseball from a bygone era. Toymaker Cadaco has brought its All-Star Baseball out of retirement, and it plays just like the original 1941 board game. You manage a team of All Stars with a spinner and a deck of cardboard disks customized with each player's stats. This new version ($30) comes in a tin with a molded plastic stadium inside and is available at toy and game retailers. To find a dealer, call 800 621-5426. Or pick up earlier editions on eBay for $10 to $25. Got art? If your walls are adorned with Degas and de Koonings, you can turn your homegrown museum into a source of cash by using it as collateral for a low-interest loan. Citigroup Private Bank, for one, extends loans backed by art to select clients. Current interest rates are about 2 to 3 percentage points above the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR), which translates into a rate of about 3% to 4%. That sure beats taking out a home-equity loan at 6.3%, the national average.

Citi has seen demand for such loans rise by 20% for two years running, says Suzanne Gyorgy, business manager for Citi's art-advisory service, a division of the private bank that helps clients value, buy, insure, and sell art. Most clients are tapping the value of their art to expand collections or invest in stocks, Gyorgy says. Of course, you can't borrow against just any old painting. At Citi, you'll need a collection worth $10 million to qualify for the minimum-size loan of $5 million. That's not a problem for most clients, though, since the private bank's average account size is $10 million. Here's a way to say bon voyage: with a TravelFunds Card from American Express (AXP). Put, say, $2,500 on the card, and the user can swipe it like a credit or debit card at locations that take AmEx. The cards cost $14.95. They're good for three years and refillable. You can get a refund within 24 hours if the card is lost or stolen. (For more info, call 1-888-412-6945 or go to americanexpress.com/travelfundscard.)


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