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The Master Travel Redemptions Thread

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There is a lot of good discussion about earning travel rewards through credit card spending and sign-up bonuses. This thread is about redemptions, with the discussion skewed toward those rewards which were earned from credit card activities. It's meant to get you to think about how to maximize and actually use the travel awards you accumulate from smart credit card usage.

Please post your redemptions in this thread as you make reservations, share redemption tips and strategies (and regrets), and if you desire, post photos of your trips. Selfies not required.

Here's what I've recently reserved:

May:

Chicago - Three nights at the Hilton Suites / Magnificent Mile paid with three weekend night certificates from spending on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card.

I planned this trip around the expiration dates on these certificates. I wanted to use them at the Waldorf Astoria or the Conrad, but neither was available.

July/August:

Roundtrip airfare to Milan in First Class purchased with 125,000 American Airlines miles earned from signup bonuses and credit card spending. My spouse is attending a conference in Milan and I'm flying in at the tail end to spend a week in and around Italy, and then we're hitting Barcelona and Amsterdam.

I'm flying from LAX because the only routes available from San Diego on the dates I wanted to go were through London on British Airways, which would have cost ~$600 in fees, or in coach.

Barcelona - Five nights at the Le Meridien, paid with 64,000 Starwood points accumulated from 2014 household spending on the card.

SPG redemptions offer a fifth night at no additional cost. We had already planned to split nine nights between Barcelona and Amsterdam, and with no viable SPG hotel option in Amsterdam for our trip we decided to make Barcelona our five-night destination because of the availability of this hotel.

Amsterdam - Two nights at the Art'Otel, paid with 70,000 Club Carlson points, earned from the sign-up bonus on the US Bank Club Carlson Visa.

This reservation will be our last practical opportunity to use the "final night free" redemption benefit that's currently available to every Club Carlson Visa holder on every Club Carlson redemption. On 6/1 this benefit will be limited to one free night per year upon payment of the annual fee, plus $10,000 in spending on the Visa, and then only on US properties, most of which suck.

Amsterdam - Two nights at the Andaz, paid with two free night certificates, which were part of the sign-up bonus for the Chase Hyatt Visa.

Hyatt only has two properties in Amsterdam (and one is at the airport), and this one showed no availability on hyatt.com using the certificates, however rooms of every type were available for paid reservations, and rooms were also available using Hyatt points. I called the reservations number and they were able to book the nights I needed using my certificates.

Edited by cv91915

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I'm not in a good place yet to be earning travel rewards, but I'm very interested in this topic. I've browsed through flyertalk.com but they are very hard to understand.

 

I'll be following here. Hopefully in 6 months I'll be able to qualify for some decent signup bonuses.

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I'm not in a good place yet to be earning travel rewards, but I'm very interested in this topic. I've browsed through flyertalk.com but they are very hard to understand.

 

I'll be following here. Hopefully in 6 months I'll be able to qualify for some decent signup bonuses.

 

This is a tremendous side benefit of having great credit. You'll get there. :D

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I'm not in a good place yet to be earning travel rewards, but I'm very interested in this topic. I've browsed through flyertalk.com but they are very hard to understand.

 

I'll be following here. Hopefully in 6 months I'll be able to qualify for some decent signup bonuses.

This is a tremendous side benefit of having great credit. You'll get there. :D

 

Arrival plus says excellent credit but will approve with a 680 with prior relationship

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Within the past month, I booked 2 round trip tickets for my parents to come visit on AA through BA. At the time, tickets were $302 round trip. I used 18K Avios + $22.40 total, making the redeemed value over 3 cents per mile.

 

Thanks to the Amex MR 40% transfer bonus in January, I have Avios to burn, so these shorter flights are a good use.

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Within the past month, I booked 2 round trip tickets for my parents to come visit on AA through BA. At the time, tickets were $302 round trip. I used 18K Avios + $22.40 total, making the redeemed value over 3 cents per mile.

 

Thanks to the Amex MR 40% transfer bonus in January, I have Avios to burn, so these shorter flights are a good use.

 

That's a great redemption. I need to pursue this avenue for domestic redemptions.

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I recently used 135,000 Marriott Points to book 3 nights at the Cosmopolitan in Vegas. Rooms are going for about $600/night (with taxes/fees - weekend before huge conference), so got a redemption of $.013/point, which is a solid return on hotel points. Most of them were earned via business travel and 70k signup bonus.

Edited by CTSoxFan

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Any info on domestic US travel? The cheapest I can find right now is Southwest Airlines (MDW). United is big in Chicago (ORD) but most of the United flights cost 2 to 3 times what the SW flights do.

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Any info on domestic US travel? The cheapest I can find right now is Southwest Airlines (MDW). United is big in Chicago (ORD) but most of the United flights cost 2 to 3 times what the SW flights do.

If you're referring to points, UNITED has a fixed point program, as where SW it varies based on the price of the ticket

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Any info on domestic US travel? The cheapest I can find right now is Southwest Airlines (MDW). United is big in Chicago (ORD) but most of the United flights cost 2 to 3 times what the SW flights do.

BA is hard to beat. See my post above.

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Any info on domestic US travel? The cheapest I can find right now is Southwest Airlines (MDW). United is big in Chicago (ORD) but most of the United flights cost 2 to 3 times what the SW flights do.

BA is hard to beat. See my post above.

 

Ohhhhhhhhh. I finally figured out BA. I was searching wrong. I always got a error saying that "BA is not authorized to fly this route." Yeah 4500 Avios for up to 650 miles is it?

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Any info on domestic US travel? The cheapest I can find right now is Southwest Airlines (MDW). United is big in Chicago (ORD) but most of the United flights cost 2 to 3 times what the SW flights do.

BA is hard to beat. See my post above.

Ohhhhhhhhh. I finally figured out BA. I was searching wrong. I always got a error saying that "BA is not authorized to fly this route." Yeah 4500 Avios for up to 650 miles is it?

Yes. :good:

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Just reserved last week a few flights and one hotel on points for a 7 day trip to attend a friends wedding in Venice, Italy in December.

 

One-way first class flight on ANA from San Francisco to Narita, Japan. 110,000 United MileagePlus points (all points earned from signup bonuses and spend).

 

One-way Business class flight on Swiss Air Narita to Zurich, Switzerland. 75,000 United MileagePlus points.

 

Park Hyatt Zurich - one night stay. 30,000 Hyatt points (points earned on Hyatt stays and 2,000 points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt). Base rate ~ $750 USD/night.

 

One-way Business Class flight Zurich to Venice - paid flight on Swiss Air. Flight not available on points.

 

Return Flights:

 

One-way Economy flight on Swiss Air Venice to Frankfurt connecting to Lufthansa A380 to Los Angeles - 30,000 United MileagePlus points. Hoping to upgrade to business or first class during the 14 day window that Lufthansa usually releases First Class seats.

 

One-way Economy Plus (no Business or first available) flight Los Angeles to Sacramento - 10,000 United MileagePlus + $26 to upgrade to Economy Plus seat.

 

Should be a fun trip. Stopping by Japan so a friend can join me to attend our mutual friends wedding. He's flying round trip on ANA points between Japan and Venice.

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Please post your redemptions in this thread as you make reservations, share redemption tips and strategies (and regrets), and if you desire, post photos of your trips. Selfies not required.

 

Thanks for starting this CV as it is helpful to see the rewards in action.

 

From my trip to Florida last week: (took my 15 yr old daughter on a father/daughter bonding trip) Jet skied, kayaked with dolphins, had an absolute amazing time!!! Gotta save up more points for my 2 younger kids when they hit 15.

A9auWOBb.jpg

 

Used 20,000 Southwest points for 2 tickets from STL to Tampa and back. Used 10,000 Mariott points to stay one night at a Courtyard in St Petersburg / Clearwater. Spent cash to stay one night at a Quality Inn on Clearwater beach and a second night at another rachet Quality Inn in Sarasota to earn 8000 Choice points for a future stay.

Since most of my flights are short domestic ones Southwest serves me well. Easy to redeem and uncomplicated.

Perhaps for me the biggest benefit of using (Southwest at least) points is that I have the option of canceling or changing my flight without losing my money. The points just get put back into your account. This is huge for me.

My AA points I'm saving for international flights so I look forward to more posts on how you guys are redeeming them. :)

Edited by hyschmied

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I meant to call out the obvious weakness in my recent hotel redemptions. I didn't have enough points to stay in one hotel for all four nights in Amsterdam, which is a drag.

 

Hotel hopping generally goes against my grain, but the Hyatt certificates expire in September and the Carlson points are about to become useless to me, so I didn't want to let any of those go unused.

 

Flexibility helps a lot with redemptions. There were a couple of people who posted a couple of months ago about getting the US Airways card so they could do very specific redemptions. If you have no flexibility on destinations or dates you will be disappointed a lot of the time, unless you plan many months in advance.

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Please post your redemptions in this thread as you make reservations, share redemption tips and strategies (and regrets), and if you desire, post photos of your trips. Selfies not required.

 

Thanks for starting this CV as it is helpful to see the rewards in action.

 

From my trip to Florida last week: (took my 15 yr old daughter on a father/daughter bonding trip) Jet skied, kayaked with dolphins, had an absolute amazing time!!! Gotta save up more points for my 2 younger kids when they hit 15.

A9auWOBb.jpg

 

Used 20,000 Southwest points for 2 tickets from STL to Tampa and back. Used 10,000 Mariott points to stay one night at a Courtyard in St Petersburg / Clearwater. Spent cash to stay one night at a Quality Inn on Clearwater beach and a second night at another rachet Quality Inn in Sarasota to earn 8000 Choice points for a future stay.

Since most of my flights are short domestic ones Southwest serves me well. Easy to redeem and uncomplicated.

Perhaps for me the biggest benefit of using (Southwest at least) points is that I have the option of canceling or changing my flight without losing my money. The points just get put back into your account. This is huge for me.

My AA points I'm saving for international flights so I look forward to more posts on how you guys are redeeming them. :)

 

 

Those memories will be priceless. :good:

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Don't most people plan international travel many months in advance? I know I will.

 

Most of my redemptions are domestic.

 

American currently waives the $75 fee for award tickets booked inside 21 days of departure if you have elite status, and in 2014 I generally had lots of choices for short-notice one-ways at 12,500 miles each. This is the most common redemption for me.

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There seems to be an outsized amount of discussion about how to earn travel rewards compared to how much people are actually redeeming.

 

If you are getting twisted into euphoria over travel card signup bonuses but you never go anywhere with the points, you would be much better off shifting your focus to cash back cards.

 

As for me, I'm off to three free nights at the Hilton Suites/Magnificent Mile in Chicago tomorrow. :wave:

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There seems to be an outsized amount of discussion about how to earn travel rewards compared to how much people are actually redeeming.

 

If you are getting twisted into euphoria over travel card signup bonuses but you never go anywhere with the points, you would be much better off shifting your focus to cash back cards.

 

As for me, I'm off to three free nights at the Hilton Suites/Magnificent Mile in Chicago tomorrow. :wave:

 

This is a good point, and also I would add why it is important to plan out your rewards so you can do something useful with them. Having a small number of points/miles on a lot of carriers is not good, you want to consolidate to give you the best redemption options. I have been making use of my miles fairly well over the past year, scoring 4 free BC domestic tickets as well as some free hotel nights. I am saving the majority of my points however for an international trip TBD, maybe Europe again or Asia...really want to fly Singapore Air A380 FC suites...

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I have a couple more short trips planned using BA Avios, but I am also saving at the moment for a couple different Europe trips.

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