TPG’s Chris Dong: Here are my top 10 story picks from 2020 — and why they matter
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The effects of the pandemic reshaped nearly every aspect of life — including in the world of travel, credit cards and points and miles.
This week, members of the TPG team are taking a look back at some of the most important stories of the last 12 months. Today, I’m sharing my 10 most memorable articles from the year.
I started on the TPG team at the onset of the pandemic in March, reporting on credit card benefits, news and product launches and personal takes on points, miles and loyalty. However, I also contribute to other areas of the site, providing a breadth of travel expertise and intel for our readers, including becoming the pandemic credit card benefits expert.
As 2020 comes to a close (with a sigh of relief from many), here are my top 10 TPG stories — and what they signal as we look ahead to 2021.
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As countries begin reopening their borders to travelers after months of lockdowns due to COVID-19, our continuously-updated guide provides valuable information to stay informed. While the key to international travel in 2021 will largely be predicated on vaccinations, ever-changing regulations are top-of-mind for any person eager to travel again.
If you’re traveling less — and unsure how to make the most of your card benefits — you’re not alone. Credit card issuers are adjusting to a new normal reality where spending habits are vastly different than even earlier this year.
If it seems like there is a new card update or refreshed bonus category weekly, you’re not too far off. That’s why each month, we compiled a list of some of the major card benefit updates that were announced in the previous months — and what specific card benefits and bonuses will be ending soon.
This guide ensures that you’re making the most of your card’s benefits, even in 2021.
The pandemic not only put a pause on travel, but it also created mayhem for those with reservations that ended up being canceled.
Our TPG guide walks you through how you may be entitled to a full refund for a canceled flight (not just a credit) and the strategies to get one. Airlines are continuously adjusting schedules as demand for travel ebbs and flows over the course of the next year.
Remember, although many airlines have announced “no change fees,” that is not the same as a fully refundable ticket.
If you have to travel now, it’s helpful to know what to expect on your flight. Are airlines following the cleanliness protocols they’re touting? How strict are mask protocols at the airport and onboard? Will a meal be served on my flight?
One of my first flight reviews for TPG was onboard Delta One between New York and Los Angeles during the pandemic. Most importantly, it may give you insight into how to prepare for your next Delta flight.
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Coronavirus may have put a pause to international travel, but I don’t take for granted how lucky I was to be able to travel extensively in early 2020 before the pandemic took hold.
In this story, I briefly rewind to the weeks before stay-at-home orders and social distancing were even a thing. In January, February and early March, I was able to make the most of a world free to roam — thanks to a healthy balance of points and miles.
My best redemption? 73,150 LifeMiles to fly ANA first class onboard the new “Suite” product (pictured above).
During the pandemic, the frequent changes to credit card benefits are an issuer’s tactic to incentivize loyalty to a particular card.
However, this is just one part of the equation. In this story, we took a look at what else card companies needed to do to get us, as cardholders, loyal to a card. These are long-term ways to make sure we’ll come back to a card time and time again, in 2021 and beyond.
With a new partner in JetBlue and the earlier announced Alaska tie-up, American appears to be doubling down on a new-found 2021 strategy: Relying on other airlines for its domestic network and connecting that to its own international flights. As an American frequent flyer in New York, that plan will work in my favor.
This story goes through five reasons why I’m excited about the future of American with these two announcements.
2020 was a flashpoint for social justice and TPG got involved in a number of ways.
For individuals, there are also opportunities to be an ally for social justice — including actively practicing anti-racism — while immersed in the points, miles and cards world. This guide walks through five ways to do just that and it’s relevant now as well as throughout the years to come.
2020 even saw the launch of several significant new or significantly refreshed credit cards.
One of the most important elements of any card its earning structure. The Venmo credit card was arguably one of the most intriguing launches of the year. Why? Flexibility.
The card is offering an incredible amount of flexibility with no set bonus categories. Instead, it offers 3% back on your highest spending category each month, 2% back on your second highest spending category and 1% back on everything else. That’s the kind of versatility we hope to see from other cards in 2021.
Related: Best cash-back cards of the year
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This story made the cut for my top 10 since it was the first article I wrote for TPG in mid-March.
Earlier that month, I left my home in New York for an international trip before the height of the pandemic took hold. However, in a matter of days, things took a drastic turn. I chronicled my experience coming back to the U.S. flying from Fiji.
Featured photo by Chris Dong / The Points Guy.
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