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Why I won't let omicron ruin my first holiday season as a New Yorker

Dec. 24, 2021
4 min read
Why I won't let omicron ruin my first holiday season as a New Yorker
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Electricity courses through New York City once December hits, almost as if it’s crackling through the air. You can see it as people break out their scarves and mittens and join arms as they galavant down the avenues and streets. You can see it in the crumpled brown shopping bags they carry full of presents, wine and gifts to bring to holiday parties. It’s especially evident inside the bars and restaurants, where there's palpable excitement as the holiday season gets underway.

But this year, it’s as if someone flipped a switch and the circuit was broken.

This was supposed to be a story about enjoying the holidays in the city for the first time as a resident. Sure, I’ve seen New York City during the holiday season before, but living here is entirely different. You become a part of the city when you live here. It's like a living, breathing being that thrives on the energy of its inhabitants.

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On Wednesday, Dec. 15, I skated at Rockefeller Center and enjoyed holiday tea at The Plaza — my first time doing both. I smiled to myself as I walked along Fifth Avenue, taking in the Christmas decorations and window installments. I really am living my dream. But as I write this, the state of New York is posting record-shattering COVID-19 numbers, with a huge number of them coming from the city.

The atmosphere in the city shifted almost overnight.

(Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

The mood was eerie throughout Thursday, Dec. 16. Soon, more and more people I knew were either getting tests due to potential exposures or canceling plans for the weekend. I fell into the latter group. COVID-19 testing lines stretched down sidewalks.

While the city is home to millions of people, it’s very easy to feel alone. Add precautionary isolation, and the feeling pervades all aspects of life. I wasn’t here during the first devastating wave of COVID-19 in 2020, but I no longer have to guess what it was like.

(Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

When I think back on tea at The Palm Court at The Plaza while eating macaroons and caviar on a tiny, perfect cracker or ice skating with the giant tree towering over me as I circled the tiny rink, it all seems so frivolous. But now as the reality sets in about what this winter might look like, I'm holding closer to those moments of happiness.

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When I think back to Rockefeller Center and the couple twirling in the middle of the rink, I realize it’s the people that make New York City holidays so special.

(Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

People emerge from their cramped apartments and join together for Broadway shows and ugly sweater parties and karaoke. That’s why COVID-19 is so disruptive; it forces us into isolation and away from the life that exists out in the open on the streets of New York.

(Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

COVID-19 has disrupted many things for me: my college graduation, moving to the city, spending time with friends and family and countless other things. But it has also instilled in me a deep determination to enjoy this life, despite the challenges that COVID-19 has posed.

My first holiday season was merry in the city, and I refuse to remember it any other way. Instead of focusing on what I didn't do, like venturing into Christmas-themed bars and wearing an ugly sweater to a gathering with friends, I'm choosing to focus on what I did do and how it made me feel. Walking along 5th Avenue and window shopping with my sister was a full-circle moment; it represented all of the work that I had done to get to NYC.

I finally feel like a part of it; it's as if I'm a conductor for the wonderful energy that surges through the city. Despite the challenges this season continues to present, I'm still aglow with it.

Featured image by (Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
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  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more