A quick lesson in geography and history

In a previous post I mentioned I could not sign up for some credit cards and there was a peculiar reason. Why do I keep talking about credit cards in a travel blog? Don’t worry, we’ll get there. Make sure you subscribe to the blog ;-).

So how come I couldn’t get the credit cards I wanted? Well… I live in Puerto Rico. How is that relevant? I’m going to try and leave out politics aside (most of it anyway), so let’s begin…

Do not be ashamed if you know nothing about Puerto Rico, that’s what I’m here for. Let’s start; this is Puerto Rico:

This is Puerto Rico
Island of Puerto Rico

 

This is Puerto Rico in relationship to the rest of the world:

Here is Puerto Rico
Here is Puerto Rico

I can link to Wikipedia’s article on Puerto Rico (click here), but most likely you won’t read all of it. So now you have an idea WHERE Puerto Rico is, but WHAT is it? Is it a country? Is it part of the USA?

The answer is yes, to both… sometimes… maybe. Puerto Rico is a territory that belongs to the US of A. Puerto Rico uses US currency, we use the USPS and people born in PR are US citizens. So why the confusion? Well, the first thing you’ll notice, is that Puerto Rico is not attached to the US.

So what? Neither is Hawaii (or Alaska, for that matter). Don’t people in Puerto Rico speak Spanish? Yes, most of us do. Both English and Spanish are official languages and many people speak both, but the main language is Spanish. You see, Puerto Rico used to belong to Spain many years ago, so that explains the difference in culture and language. This guy wrote a longer post with more history and political details (in case you are interested): http://manuelmonserrate.tumblr.com/post/55797439961/puerto-rican-citizenship-status-in-the-us-for-dummies.

So what does that have to do with travel and credit cards? Well, for a long time the credit cards from the big US banks that offer the large miles/points signup bonuses were not available to Puerto Rico residents. I still don’t know if there was any legal reason why, but earlier this year I discovered that some banks started offering their cards to residents of Puerto Rico! Still, not all banks do it, but it was enough to allow me to get started collecting miles/points.  I should be used to this by now, but I’m not. When ordering anything online, it’s always a fun game to fill the form and try to guess if Puerto Rico will show up as a US territory, if it will be a separate country or if it shows at all!

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

-Part-time traveler