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The Times Square ball drop in New York City is back — but people don't seem to care

Nov. 17, 2021
4 min read
The Times Square ball drop in New York City is back — but people don't seem to care
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New York City will once again bring in the new year in a big way: The infamous Times Square ball drop.

But before you don your coat, gloves and stand in the freezing cold with tens of thousands of other humans, know that the annual ball drop will look a little different this year. Amid the ongoing pandemic, New York City will require people attending the New Years' Eve festivities in Times Square to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.

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Revelers 5 years old or over must present proof of a COVID-19 vaccination approved by the FDA or World Health Organization to enter. People unable to be vaccinated because of a disability must show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to the event, and they'll also be required to wear a mask.

“We want to welcome all those hundreds of thousands of folks, but everyone needs to be vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “Join the crowd, join the joy, join a historic moment as New York City provides further evidence to the world that we are 100% back.”

The ball drop will conclude a year that saw New York City fully reopen back to residents and tourists. De Blasio said back in April it would be “the summer of New York City,” and there would be no restrictions on restaurants, shops, businesses or theaters. Broadway officially returned at full capacity in September. Restaurants and bars also reopened, first with capacity limits and then with fewer restrictions. And subway ridership has been steadily hitting the over 3 million passenger mark (but is still down compared to pre-pandemic days).

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However, the city has also faced its share of setbacks, largely due to the highly-transmissible delta variant.

For instance, New York City became the first U.S. city to mandate proof of vaccination for indoor dining as a result of the variant. It also faced backlash from city employees for its vaccination requirement. (According to de Blasio, the New York City Police Department will take the lead on verifying COVID-19 vaccination credentials, even as the force pushed back on a vaccination mandate for city workers.)

But even with the annual celebration coming back in person, people largely don’t seem to care. When I asked several of my TPG colleagues whether they’d attend — even those outside of the New York metro area — the vast majority responded with aversion.

“I think even the people who say they enjoy it don’t actually enjoy it,” TPG senior reporter David Slotnick responded.

Other staffers say there are logistical issues to contend with.

“The lack of access to a bathroom really makes it a non-starter for me, but I do like cheesy stuff like that,” said TPG reporter Caroline Tanner.

If watching the ball drop from the center of Times Square is absolutely not on your bucket list, there are other ways to watch the festivities up close (and out of the elements). Here are several hotel options with prime views — some of which can offer a great value to travelers who can use points to avoid the inflated holiday rates.

Featured image by (Photo by boneman/Twenty20)
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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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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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
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Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
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  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
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

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees