Grab Your Popcorn for this Travel News Recap

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New Bonus Offer on Chase Sapphire Preferred: The CSP card now has a higher bonus of 60,000 points (instead of 50k), but the annual fee is NOT waived the first year. Most folks consider this good news, since the value of 10,000 extra Ultimate Rewards points is greater than the annual fee of $95. From my perspective, this change makes it a little harder to convince beginners to get the card. Many newbies are afraid of cards with annual fees, and I understand. I felt the same way when I first started.

Redeem AA Miles on China Southern: If you are interested in flying to China, you can now use your AA miles on China Southern. It appears that awards are not yet bookable online, so you must call. H/T View From the Wing.

New Harsh Bonus Restrictions with Amex UK: This interesting post on the UK blog Head for Points describes Amex’s new restrictions on bonuses in the UK. Basically, in the UK you cannot get a bonus on any new Amex card if you have had any Amex card within the past 24 months. You can be approved for a card, but you won’t get the bonus. Don’t panic, I don’t think Amex will head that direction in the U.S. But, it’s still interesting to see how hard it is to accumulate miles and points in other countries.

Staples $200 Gift Card with No Fee: From 3/24 – 3/30, you can buy a $200 Mastercard gift card with no fee in stores. See this post on Doctor of Credit. If you happen to have a card that earns 5X points at office supply stores (like Chase Ink or Amex Simply Cash Business), you could rack up decent points by purchasing multiple gift cards over different visits.

Grab Your Popcorn: Marriott Bonvoy/TPG Controversy: On this blog and in my personal life, I really try to stay away from drama and controversy as much as possible. Online debates, arguing and negativity just suck up too much time and energy. But at the same time, by taking that stance, I sometimes feel like I’m ignoring the elephant in the room and playing it too safe. Wouldn’t life be boring if we all agreed with each other on everything? Wouldn’t miles and points travel blogs be boring if bloggers could only say positive things about hotels, travel locations and credit cards? Don’t readers want to hear the negative reviews and real life scenarios to get a balanced perspective?

So with that said, recently there has been some controversy surrounding Marriott and The Points Guy (TPG) blog (see this post as an example). It started when a TPG contributor wrote a post that was critical of the Marriott Bonvoy program. TPG then decided to delete the critical post, which sent many readers and bloggers into a frenzy. At the same time, TPG staffers were staying at expensive Marriott properties and going to the Oscars courtesy of Marriott, leading some to believe that TPG and Marriott have a relationship that is not being disclosed.

This past week, a different TPG staff member wrote a seemingly positive post about Marriott Bonvoy. It does read almost like Marriott itself wrote the post. The comments section is very heated. Seriously, grab your popcorn if you intend to read through all of them.

Photo by Charles ???????? on Unsplash

Then yesterday, Gary from View From the Wing wrote a post that directly challenged the narrative of TPG’s positive post. More controversial comments ensued.

Here is my take on all of this: I admire Gary for writing his post. His post is critical, yet respectful, especially compared to many of the comments on various blogs and social media about this subject. I agree with many of Gary’s points.

For the record, I am not anti-TPG. The site has some good writers and good content that I personally enjoy reading.

So why am I even bringing this all up? I want you to read posts with a critical eye. Ask questions, challenge facts and think. And I’m not just talking about posts on TPG, but articles from every news source/blog/social media post (see my post from last month about the Fyre Festival and influencers).

I hope that if this blog ever makes the big time, we don’t lose sight of our roots. Our goal is to help people travel for less money using miles and points from credit card bonuses and every other travel hack that is ethical and feasible. My reviews of trips and credit cards will be honest, even if that honesty prevents me from scoring a big partnership with a bank or hotel. I want to be upfront about how this blog makes money. And if I stray from that, I hope you will call me out on it.

But please do it respectfully. And after you call it out and you still don’t like what you see, just keep scrolling and move on. Life is too short to get wrapped up in online drama.

Have a great weekend!

Author: Nancy

Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.

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