Here's What I'm Thankful for in the Travel Industry This Thanksgiving
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It goes without saying I'm extremely grateful for my wonderful family and amazing friends this Thanksgiving — that never changes. But beyond the usual items, I'm thankful for some travel industry-related things too. Whether it be a new credit card deal, an airline with free Wi-Fi or beyond, here's my list of travel thank-yous in 2019. The information for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
This year, I'm grateful for...
The TPG readers who have joined us in giving back
I'm honored to announce that many TPG readers have joined some our our charity initiatives this year, and we've managed to give nearly ONE MILLION DOLLARS to those in need. I want to thank each and every one of you for your amazing efforts. Some of the highlights of our charity efforts include raising and donating:
- $350,000 to PeaceJam
- $200,000 to Rainbow Railroad via Prizeo — helping save 21 lives
- $10,000 to UNICEF
- $5,000 to BStrong for hurricane relief
- $5,000 (so far) for the California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund. TPG will match donations up to $10,000, and it's still not too late to donate.
- $150,000 (so far) for Make-A-Wish foundation. In fact, for every donation of at least $10 through Prizeo before November 30th you'll be entered to win 1,000,000 United MileagePlus miles and the Trip That Transforms. If you’re selected as the lucky winner, you’ll also travel to New York City, where I’ll help you plan that ultimate trip for you and a guest. You’ll also get $2,000 in Airbnb vouchers and rental car service at your dream destination, provided by Avis. And don’t worry about airfare or accommodations in the Big Apple — I’ve got you covered.
JetBlue's delicious food, and fast FREE Wi-Fi
It's no secret that I've been a fan of JetBlue, well, forever. JetBlue Mint is one of the best options for domestic (and beyond) premium-class travel, thanks to their delicious food and comfortable seats (you can even snag private suites in certain rows).
But it's not just Mint. If I'm stuck in economy, JetBlue's seats rank among the best for transcontinental flights with seats 18 inches wide and 33 inches apart — the best specs of any US carrier, although those numbers will shrink on some airplanes. And they offer free snacks, which seals the deal. I mean, who doesn't love free snacks?
The icing on the cake is that Wi-Fi is free for all passengers on all of JetBlue's planes, regardless of what cabin you're flying in.
CLEAR identity verification at airports
CLEAR is a service that allows me to get through airport security in a matter of moments, saving so much time. The system uses biometrics (eyes and fingertips) to verify your identity and fast-track you through security. While CLEAR is located in 35+ airports, stadiums and other venues around the US, I wish it were available in more airports. Hopefully by this time next year, it will be.
Delta SkyMiles members pay just $99 per year for CLEAR, which is a solid discount from the $179 fee. If you happen to have Delta Silver, Gold or Platinum Medallion status or even an eligible Delta credit card, then you can get CLEAR for just $79 per year. And, it's free for Delta Diamond Medallions.
Global Entry / Mobile Passport & UK Registered Traveller
Anything that helps me avoid waiting in lines makes me happy. I remember the days of waiting for hours at a time to go through security or get through customs. While I already mentioned CLEAR above, having Global Entry (which also gives me TSA PreCheck) makes my average TSA wait three minutes (in airports without CLEAR where I need to use PreCheck) and about 90 seconds when entering US customs lines. If you're planning to get Global Entry, you may have a credit card that will pay for your application fee, so check out this list to see which cards offer this benefit.
After years of waiting for hours in horrendous lines at Heathrow (LHR), I was so happy to finally get a Registered Traveller membership. Memberships are available for US passport holders if you've traveled to the UK four times or more in the last 24 months. More information about signing up can be found here.
The 10X Miles on Hotels.com with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Cards (and the new transferable Venture miles)
I thought one of my favorite deals of the year was back in January when the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card launched their 10x miles on purchases made at Hotels.com Venture through Jan. 31, 2020. Now, I almost always reserve hotels without a loyalty program on Hotels.com using that card. But then, things got even better when Capital One recently added 14 airline partners and a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening an account. And if you’re a business, you can get a whopping 200,000 Capital One bonus miles on the Capital One Spark Miles For Business card after a two-tier total spend of $50,000 in the first six months.
The American Express Business Gold Card With 4X Points
Another game-changer credit card offer this year I am grateful for is the American Express® Business Gold Card. This card is replacing the old Amex Business Gold card — with some amazing perks and earning potential. You'll automatically earn 4X points on your top two areas of business spending each month from six possible categories (airfare, advertising, shipping, gas stations, US restaurants and select technology providers) on up to $150,000 per year — meaning you don’t have to pick just one category for the entire year. You’ll also get perks like a 25% Pay With Points airfare rebate, along with many of the existing perks of the old Business Gold Rewards.
4X the points on up to $150,000 in spend gets me 600,000 Amex points a year (well, and 1.2 million if you include 600,000 this year and 600,000 after January 1, as I spend at least $150,000 or more per calendar year on advertising). According to my most recent valuations at .2 cents per dollar, 1.2 million Amex points is worth about $24,000. Not bad at all.
This year has brought me so many gifts I'm grateful for in the travel realm, and otherwise. I also want to thank all of you for reading and supporting The Points Guy — you make all the difference.
What are you thankful for this season? Share in the comments section, below. Happy Thanksgiving!