1. Through January 8th, you can transfer Citi Thank You points (with eligible cards) to Hilton program and get 1:2 ratio. Not worth it for most people, except if you have low category redemption in mind. See my post on using 5,000 Hilton points to get a $99 room. (h/t Milevalue)
2. You can book a flight on Orbitz and save $100 on your future hotel bill if you pay with Visa Checkout. (there are a few restrictions, naturally)
3. If you are a Delta hub captive and have a lot of Sky miles, you might be interested in the fact that Delta’s broken search engine has recently gotten a major facelift. Read this post on Milenomics for some tips and step-by-step instructions for searching award availability.
4. I got an email from TravelPony (my link) that the site is having a special sale on hotels. It ends tonight, and you have to enter code FRIEND at the checkout to save additional 5% on your booking. Remember, if you sign up through my link, you would get a $35 off $200 reservation. Always compare the rates to those on Kayak.com
5. Many good Sync offers are currently available to Amex cardholders. One of the best is $10 off $50 bill at Office Depot. You can buy gift cards to other retailers like Amazon in physical stores. Also, check your Amex profile and see “Offers for you.”
6. You can get an additional 2.500 points when you apply for Chase Freedom and add an authorized user. Not a huge thing, but I wanted to mention it. Remember, the bonus is currently increased to 20,000 points. It does pay me commission. You can send a referral to your friend if you have Chase Freedom and get 5,000 points.
7. For a limited time, get a $20 bonus card for every $100 gift card you purchase for Carrabba’s restaurant (Jen, this one is for you :)). It does come with some restrictions, but a very good deal nonetheless. Check your favorite chain and see if they are running a similar promotion.
On my mind
No, I’m not joining Boarding Area! I’m willing to bet a few of you had a mild heart attack. Sorry, folks, I’m a little evil that way. April Fools’ day in November?
This is going to be a long rant, so be prepared.
The other day me and Sam from Milenomics had a conversation, and he asked me if I thought about joining a blog network. I just about choked on my cheerios. Who would be foolish enough to want a troublemaker such as myself? For those of you unfamiliar, there are currently 4 major networks in the miles and points world: Boarding Area, First2Board, Saverocity and UPGRD
What is the point of joining one? Simple: To get traffic and exposure. As a brand new blogger, it’s vital to have those things for your site to become a success in the long run. In fact, I would go as far as to say that if you are just starting out, you have no choice but to join one. You simply will not make it otherwise. In fact, you most likely will not make it even if you join one, though your chances are slightly better.
No, 3 years from now you will not have 400,000 views in one month. I don’t care how brilliant you are, the market is currently saturated beyond belief. That first-class seat will not be your office one day. It would require all 20 major bloggers to quit for you to even have a chance. And they won’t quit as long as affiliate links are around. And if the links aren’t around, you won’t be able to afford that first-class seat. See how it’s all connected?
When I first started blogging, I actually did inquire with several networks, including Boarding Area. Of course, a few “colorful” posts later, and that door is most likely closed for good. This may sound crazy, but I’m actually glad it didn’t materialize. In fact, even if offered, I would not join a blogging network now. To be clear, this is kind of like when this nerdy guy says : “That’s why I don’t have a girlfriend.” And his buddy rolls his eyes and responds: “Yeah, that’s why!”
Honestly, I have nothing against Boarding Area. Many people love to hate on it, like it’s an evil empire of sorts. Sometimes it’s viewed as monopolistic Standard Oil Co. with Randy Petersen playing the role of John D. Rockefeller. Folks, it’s really way less sinister than that.
Besides, the current state of this industry resembles a unique kind of oligopoly, with few “whale” blogs of Boarding Area being amongst a handful of major players. Boarding Area itself is just a platform, helping blogs to live up to their potential. It’s the case of “one hand washes the other.” The network makes money from ads and you get readers. Win win.
Plus, Boarding Area consists of sites that are as similar as night and day. Take View from the Wing and Wandering Aramean blogs. Even though they focus on aviation aspect of this hobby, the blogs couldn’t be more different. I’m willing to bet my entire stash of IHG points that Seth (the WA author) will be thrilled I said that.
There are sites like Points and Pixie Dust (whimsical) and Running With Miles (underrated). And of course, how can I forget Rapid Travel Chai? I’m pretty sure me and Stefan are 5th cousins, which is totally possible, since he is part Polish/Russian, just like me. My point is: Judge the blog by its content, not its network.
So, why do I prefer to be on my own? Well, I’m a very competitive individual, and would feel pressured to keep up with the Joneses (other blogs in the network). Ultimately, I want to avoid it. To be clear, I’m not a jealous/bitter person and am genuinely happy for other peoples’ success.
Another reason: I like the idea of not having to “deliver” or “bring it.” When you join a network, they use their limited resources to maintain your site. It’s only fair you hold up your end of the bargain and try to bring in more traffic. I like the idea that I can walk away at a moment’s notice if I choose to do so. I don’t have to answer to anyone, other than my readers. In spite of all the figurative poop that came along with blogging (and there has been aplenty), it’s still punk.
I can also speak my mind more freely and not worry too much about offending my neighbors. To quote the lyrics from Bastille song “Dreams,” in blogging “it’s only right that you should play it the way you feel it.” Of course, it goes on in saying “but listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness…”
So, if Sam decided to start a network and invited me to join, I’d probably consider it. But he’s got much more important/exciting stuff happening at the moment, like the upcoming birth of his baby. So, that’s probably off the table for now.
All in all, I’m quite happy with my arrangement. It’s my crazy blog vs. the world.
Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.