The man who's made paper clips count at American Express

As efficiency becomes a priority, company procurement managers have their work cut out for them, writes Peter Koenig

Is there safety in numbers?

IF THERE is one thing the accountancy profession is agreed on, it is that medium-sized firms face a tricky future. Caught between the overwhelming power of the Big Five international firms and the small niche practices, they are busy jostling for position just to survive.

Money: Sun, sea and exploitation

Most of us are still paying too much for holiday cover despite new laws that should make it cheaper, writes Stephen Pritchard

The very VIP lounge, please

We're all middle class - but some of us are more middle class than others. HESTER LACEY uncovers the new elite

Obituary: Adolfo Bioy Casares

THE WRITER Adolfo Bioy Casares will perhaps be known best outside of Argentina as the friend and co-writer of Jorge Luis Borges, a friendship that began in 1935 and lasted a lifetime.

Your last chance to eat out and save a fortune

For the same price as a copy of The Independent - 45p - we are offering you the chance to treat a friend to a meal, and then save 25 per cent every time you eat in selected restaurants.

Money: The card that's fit for a king

Sudden craving for two dozen hamburgers? A new Cadillac? A charge - not credit - card is for you.

Restaurant offer: Dine out at Britain's finest restaurants and pay just 45p for your partner

Collect four tokens to take advantage of this fabulous opportunity - then enjoy meals at 25 per cent off

The knack How to get an upgrade

"Airlines look after their best customers first, so it helps if you're a frequent flyer. If you are, you'll probably be a member of a loyalty programme, which increases your chances further. You'll also be a valued customer to your travel agent, and it's in their interests to do favours for you. Ask them to approach the airline and make a case: `This customer is doing a lot of travelling on this route over the next few months, he's trying to finalise his choice of airline, and he'd like to sample your premium product.' Every booking has a history in the computer, and it's very important to get the upgrade message put into the system before you fly. Entries such as `upgrade subject to space' will be seen by the check-in agent who will then have more authority. The only sure way to get an upgrade is to pay with a gold or platinum American Express card - they have a programme which guarantees an upgrade, although usually from business to first class.

Personal Finance: Cards splash out on big spenders

GONE are the days when you thought yourself lucky if the bank kindly offered you a credit card for pounds 12 a year. The new Alliance & Leicester Gold MoneyBack card launches tomorrow and A&L pays you to use it. The bank is offering between 50p and pounds 4 cash back (depending on where you spend the money) for every pounds 100 you spend. A&L is hoping to attract plenty of affluent customers (earning pounds 20,000 or more per year) who plan to hit the January sales using their new cards.

Cover before you leap

Adequate medical and legal insurance are vital for winter sports, says Tim Collison

Personal Finance: Cash points - Amex portfolios

American Express is launching a choice of five investment portfolios, graded according to the amount of risk involved and aimed at private investors in Europe and the UK. Next month investors in France, Germany and Italy will be offered investments quoted in euros. From next April UK investors will be offered an identical range quoted in sterling, which will qualify for inclusion in tax-exempt Individual Savings Accounts.

Great! Another pair of socks...

Giving Christmas presents can be stressful. But receiving them is even worse.

Worth their weight in gold?

IN THE mid 1960s, American Express and Diners Club imported their charge cards from the US, writes Tony Lyons. What makes them different to a credit card is that you have to pay off the charge card in full every month.

Golf: Victims of the new world order

Golf's fast-changing landscape is leaving Europe's pros in the rough.
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'