I’ve been writing Online Travel Review for nearly 9 years (time flies!), and it’s a labor of love. I love writing about airlines, and I’m amazed that people actually read what I write. Fantastic.
Over the past 2 years or so it’s been difficult to write about the airline industry without writing about credit cards and loyalty programs because they’ve become such an integral part of the airline industry; this is true for the airlines themselves, many of which were helped financially by the banks that issue their credit cards, and for travelers who can fly pretty much anywhere in the world they want for free just by opening a couple of credit cards.
How to best take advantage of cards and points has been a part of this site for the past couple of years, though I don’t have quite the passion for it that you find in some of the other sites out there (more power to those who want to spend a weekend at an airport hotel talking about this stuff…) But I think I’ve approached this whole topic from a bit of a different perspective without, perhaps, some of the hysteria that you may find elsewhere.
This is a preface to a quick note about the current state of affairs viz a viz the Vanilla/Bluebird Situation (VBS). I read a few blogs each day, and I just went back and counted more than a dozen posts on those blogs over the past week or so about the VBS. A dozen. Possibly more (I stopped counting). Thousands and thousands of words all basically saying this (for those who have no idea what I’m talking about):
Buy a (or many) $500 Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot with a Chase Ink card and you’ll get 2500 Ultimate Rewards points per $500 card (it costs $3.95). Use that card to fund your Amex Bluebird account (basically a checking account), and then pay whoever you like through their billpay service.
That’s it. There are posts on where to buy the cards (hint: go to vanillareload.com and look at the list); posts on how to pay off the credit card bill with the money you purchased with that credit card (sketchy); posts on how you should get multiple credit cards for you, your spouse and your family members with a disclaimer not to ruin your credit (ha); posts on how to purchase an orangutan from the zoo, shave it, teach it to walk upright, and get it credit cards; posts about how there are no Vanilla Reload cards left; posts on how to tell a drug store cashier to ring up a card, etc etc etc.
I’m torn between whether I feel the hysteria is justified (yes, you really can get a bunch of Ultimate Rewards points for next-to-nothing); and part of me wonders whether the thousands and thousands of words spilled on the topic have something to do with the affiliate payout on the Ink Cards (I get them as well, so pot kettle black, y’know?)
This was the long way around to say that unless I find some brand spankin’ new angle on this, you won’t hear from me about it. Frequent Miler started this whole thing, and he deserves all the credit for the dozens of blogs that are now writing about this as if it was their discovery. If I come up with a unique angle, I’ll write about it. But until then, I’m pretty sure you can find out everything you want to know elsewhere. And if you want to apply for the Ink cards, you’re welcome to use my links, or those of the 200 other sites working for your business.
Thanks for taking the time, and I’ll leave you with the types of stories I really love: Bulgaria’s BH Air has applied to serve Chicago and New York from Sofia, Bulgaria, marking what would be, I believe, the first nonstop service between the two countries (whew, now I feel better…)