Chase Reserve offering $100 Annual Fee credit

As a travel and spend has fallen dramatically in the past months, those with premium credit cards are having difficult getting enough value to help justify the fee. The Chase Reserve is one of the most popular travel credit cards and Chase has just announced that cardholders whose renewal dates fall between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020 are eligible for a $100 Annual Fee credit. Here’s the statement from Chase:

We recognize this is a difficult time for everyone. As a way to help, we’re providing you a one-time $100 statement credit toward the 2020 $550 annual fee on your Reserve credit card. On an upcoming billing statement (based on your renewal date), you’ll see a $550 charge for the annual fee, followed by a $100 statement credit. We will continue to bill the $550 annual fee in 2021. Because this credit only applies to open Reserve accounts, if you’ve closed your Reserve account or traded to another credit card before your renewal, you will not receive the $100 statement credit. We know COVID-19 has affected people in many different ways. Please check chase.com/StayConnected for updates and helpful ways to stay connected to your accounts.

I think this is a helpful offer and would encourage readers to take Chase up on this if they have a qualifying renewal date.

Alternatives for travelers putting off trips to Asia due to coronavirus

In my latest article for NerdWallet, I wrote about how I’m considering cancelling an upcoming trip that I have to Taipei due to concerns about the coronavirus. Right now, after discussing it with my doctor, I’m still planning to go to Taiwan (although I will keep monitoring the news and may change plans if the situation deteriorates).

That said, concerns for the coronavirus has travelers around the world re-thinking their Asia travel. While I do not think it makes sense to avoid Asia entirely, I wanted to compile a list of alternative destinations you could travel to if you were considering postponing your Asia trips.

Instead of Singapore, go to Dubai.

Both Singapore and Dubai share a passion of futuristic design, safety (at the cost of personal freedoms, but that’s for another post), skyscrapers, and cleanliness.

Dubai2

While Dubai is technically still in Asia, it’s much closer to Africa and even Europe than where the coronavirus outbreak is occurring, which is why I’ve included it on this list.

Instead of Ho Chi Minh City, go to Istanbul.

Looking for a bustling city on a river that is full of culture? Well, if you’re travel is going to take you away from Ho Chi Minh City, a good alternative would be Istanbul.

Istanbul2

Located on the Bosporus River and straddling Europe and Asia (but again, far enough away from the outbreak to make this list!), Istanbul is an affordable city with great food, wonderful people, and a rich history that makes the city worth discovering.

Instead of Koh Samui, go to Mallorca.

Thailand is one of my favorite places on the planet but, luckily, so is Mallorca. If you were planning on going to Koh Samui and are looking for crystal-clear blue water, beaches galore, warm weather, and a fun experience for either solo travelers or families, you should consider going to Mallorca instead.

Mallorca

I’d recommend getting out outside of Palma and traveling to the beach downs of either Port de Sóller or Port de Pollença.

Instead of Beijing, go to Mexico City.

If you’re looking for a sprawling metropolis with impressive man-man architecture just outside the city, you may want to consider swapping Beijing for Mexico City.

Mexico City

Mexico City is home to just about 9 million residents and just outside of the city you can find Teotihuacán, a complex of temples is known for its two massive pyramids, Pirámide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) and Pirámide de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon)

Instead of Hong Kong, go to Rio.

There is perhaps no skyline in the world as beautiful as Hong Kong… except, maybe, Rio. I’ll just post the picture below and you’ll be able to see why Rio may be a good alternative to those looking to enjoy the city lights of Hong Kong.

Rio

At the end of the day, I’d recommend speaking with your doctor before rescheduling any travel to Asia. That said, for those who have already decide to cancel a trip or are too hesitant to book one, the cities listed above provide great alternatives for your Asia travel.

Alaska Airlines joining oneworld alliance

In breaking travel news, Alaska Airlines will be joining the oneworld alliance sometime in summer 2021.

This news is both huge and surprising, as Alaska has been cutting ties in recent years with former partner American Airlines. I’m sure the news is especially well-received among oneworld members, as they recently lost LATAM (which was a significant loss, since it was their only Latin American-based carrier).

My thoughts: I’m a bit uneasy about this change, as my fear is that the following will be (negatively) affected:

  • How you earn status on Alaska (currently, pretty easy and based on the actual miles you fly regardless of how much you spend on your tickets)
  • Redemption rates for Alaska partners (an example of a redemption rate that I don’t want to lose is that you can redeem 55,000 Alaska miles for business class to New Zealand or Australia on Qantas)
  • Alaska partners (currently Alaska has a hodgepodge of great airline partners and they may lose some, like Emirates and Singapore, by joining oneworld)

That said, as a San Francisco-based traveler, this makes the prospect of status on Alaska makes a lot more since it’s hubbed in SFO and I can fly American Airlines for my international trips with oneworld status.

What are your thoughts on Alaska joining oneworld? Let me know in the comments!

Why Jardín is the perfect side-trip for Medellín, Colombia tourists

Since discovering Medellín, Colombia in June 2016, it has become my favorite remote work destination. There are many reasons for this, including the perfect weather (the city’s nickname is the “Land of Eternal Spring”), the low prices for food and housing, the convenient time zones for those working U.S. hours, and the beautiful scenery.

On my latest trip to Medellín, I decided to pair it with a weekend trip to Jardin – a picturesque, coffee-producing town in the Andes located about a 4-hour drive away. I was really glad that I did and would recommend it as an excursion for anyone spending more than 4/5 days in the region.

The drive down is beautiful, although takes you through some winding, bumpy roads (so, if you get carsick easily, it may not be the best trip for you). Note that they are currently building a massive highway between Medellín and Jardín that will cut commute time and make the drive much smoother, which will make getting to Jardín even easier in the next few years.

Jardin1
View of Jardín from a hike right outside of the city.

Although you won’t find 4-star hotels in Jardín, I stayed at a gorgeous Airbnb on a coffee farm with an incredible view. The host, Fanny, owns the coffee farm next door and can cook you breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which you can eat on her balcony. You can also take a tour of her coffee farm.

While the view was stunning and the hospitality was amazing, being out in the Colombian countryside means that you need to give up some luxuries you have in the city. For one, the Airbnb didn’t have hot water (although it was warm enough for a quick shower). Also, there are bugs all around and you need to sleep with a mosquito net and, even with the net, you’re still likely to get bitten (my feet are currently itching like crazy!).

At the center of Jardín is a beautiful town square with a church as the focal point and plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops all around. The town is definitely affordable, and dinner at a nice restaurant without alcohol will cost you around $5-$6.

In terms of things to do, there are numerous hikes that you can take (many involve seeing waterfalls but all involve amazing views). It’s also a perfect base for paragliding, and you’ll paragliders taking advantage of the views and wind currents throughout your stay.

Overall, if you’re going to visit Medellín for more than a few days, you should definitely look into a trip to Jardín. Although the drive means that a day trip would be pushing it, I felt 2 nights was perfect and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys amazing views and coffee.