In this episode, I share tips from stellar travel writers on some easy ways to get some big wins in the points and miles game.
Episode talking points:
- My trip to Disney
- How to approach TSA if you lost your ID on your trip
- My personal finance budgeting approach
- Easy points and miles redemptions with big value (detailed below)
The tips from our friends:
TFB – American Airlines business class with British Airways Avios
Because both my Chase and Amex points transfer to BA, this is an easy redemption to pull off. You can book AA award available seats through British Airways at a great price relative to the cash value. Is it an amazing first class product? Not exactly. Is it the most efficient use of my points? Not at all. But it’s a nice experience, especially for some of the longer domestic flights I have to take. It’s a great value for the 4+ hour flight from Chicago to Portland I have to take later this summer.
Lack of availability is the main issue, so it’s not something I can consistently do. Prices have gone up, which makes it far less of a steal than it used to be. But I can get a business class ticket to Vegas from Chicago for 22k points. Occasionally, things are worth a splurge. Flying in style to casino land USA is definitely worth it. Alternately, economy seating on the same flight is 11k through BA, but, I mean, ew.
Bethany of BougieMiles.com – 35% Membership Point Rebate
Bethany likes getting credit for everything. While my play offers me no additional points booking through BA, Bethany likes using her Amex Membership Rewards points to book through the Amex travel portal. This way, it acts like a cash fair and Bethany can airlines miles for the booking. “For me, it’s all about getting credit for paying for the flight rather than being on an award ticket for some strange reason”, she said.
But it’s not strange at all. She uses points she’s earned through Amex to book a flight, gets additional points from the carrier for taking the flight, plus, she gets a nice 35% rebate from Amex thanks to her Business Platinum card. It’s a solid strategy that fits within her travel habits. There are some good reasons to book through the portal instead of transferring the points like I tend to do. This is a good one.
Dave of MilesTalk.com – first class to Europe for 50k points
This is a more creative way to book American Airlines flights. But for this trick, Dave uses Etihad Airway miles. Have you flown Etihad? I haven’t. Should we create an Etihad account? With the tip from Dave, probably. You see, Etihad Airways offers an award chart solely for partner availability on American Airlines. Dave gives an overview:
“This is easy – for as long as the partnership lasts anyways.
While it’s far from a secret, it’s also rarely discussed, perhaps because people are afraid to learn a new program. But you can book an AA First Class award ticket from US to Europe one-way for 50,000 miles using Etihad Guest miles (vs 85,000 AA miles). You can book a transcontinental 1st class flight from JFK <–> LAX/SFO for 25,000 Etihad Guest miles (vs 50,000 AA miles). Booking is surprisingly easy and Etihad miles transfer from Amex, Citi, and Capital One.”
That’s some significant savings. And while Bethany showed us why it’s great to, at times, earn points for our travels, sometimes, saving a significant amount of points makes these transfers more than worth it. This is one transfer opportunity I am definitely going to be adding to my arsenal thanks to Dave.
Han – 12k Hyatt points for Ocean Resort in the spring/summer
Creator of the now famous travel photo pose, the #HanShot, Han has many great, easy tips. At the top of his list are Singapore Airlines redemptions and booking ANA flights using Virgin Atlantic miles for round trip tickets from US to Tokyo. But speaking to us heavy gamblers, Han favors the straightforward Ocean Resort redemption. “Recall that Ocean is a category 3 Hyatt property, so this is why the redemption rate is so low and why the annual certificate can be used. Notably, when using either method (points or free cert), the resort fees (at least for the last time I tried) were waived. That’s a potentially huge value for a Saturday evening in AC”, Han details.
Ocean is bookable right through Hyatt, so there isn’t anything complicated here. If you have transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can move those to Hyatt if your account needs a boost. With rates easy going for $300+, it’s a great deal.
In addition, if you’re in AC anyway, Han suggests another trick: “the $25 in match play at the Borgata for 5K MyVegas gold coins. This is one of the cheapest, most reliable deals available.” Borgata was my favorite casino when I visited AC, and they seem to give match play coupons away like candy with moderate play. Start your session there off right with a coupon that costs little coin and time to redeem.
And there you have it. Thanks to our friends for helping us out. Note that there are other travel writers, mostly former guests of this show who have agreed to provide more tips in the future. Their submissions just weren’t ready by the time I wanted to record. More tips are coming!
Remember, how you value these things is entirely subjective. I just want to motivate you to find big wins out of a little bit of spend. What we’ve read today proves that with a little creativity and the right connection, we can make some amazing trips happen on the cheap. We just have to know where to look. I don’t always know where to look, but thanks to this show, I now have friends who do. What that means is, now you, the listener, have these friends as well. If you’re trying to plan a trip, but are getting frustrated, confused, or concerned about how to make it happen with the points and miles you have, reach out. We can get a team together, we’ll figure it out, we’ll make it fun.