We Found Treasure in the Form of Miles and Points

Last week I talked about how Micah and I earn our miles and points, and now I want to show you how we put our points to use to allow us vacations we otherwise would not be able to take.  Even if we don’t always stretch our miles and points as far as we could, we are able to travel when and how we want the majority of the time.  Redeeming miles can take a little strategic planning, but we almost always find a way to make it work out.  I would rather use miles at a less than desirable redemption rate than not go on a trip at all.  What’s the point of accumulating miles if you are never going to use them, right?  

Here are the places we have traveled to the last few months for free or very cheap:

  • Free night at the Marriott Courtyard St. Augustine I-95:  On our weekend getaway to St. Augustine, we spent our first night at a Marriott using the Visa Free night certificate in a category 1-4 hotel, which we received from the sign up bonus for the Marriott Visa credit card.  Although this hotel is located about 10 minutes away from the downtown area, we would definitely stay there again.  It is a nice, updated, clean hotel and the staff were all very friendly.
  • $5 Flights to Minneapolis on American Airlines:  We used British Airways Avios for a partner flight on AA to fly back to Minneapolis for our friends wedding this summer, and we only paid for the fees, which were $5 per person.
  • $96 Flights to Toronto on American Airlines: On our recent trip to Toronto we again used British Airways Avios to fly on partner airline AA for $96 per person in taxes and fees.
  • Free 3 day car rental from Avis:  We used British Airways Avios for our car rental as well, and although it probably was’t the best redemption rate for using our miles, it was what worked best for us at the time.
  • Free night at the Marriott Eaton Center in Toronto:  We also used our British Airways Avios for a free night in Toronto–the same as above, this is probably not the best redemption rate for our miles, but again, it gave us a free night in a nice hotel at a great location, and we still have enough miles in our accounts for 4 round trip flights.
  • Free night at the Courtyard by Marriott Niagara Falls: We redeemed 25,000 miles, that we received for our Marriott Visa, for our night in Niagara Falls–the hotel is located on the Canadian side not far from the falls area.
  • $300 in American Airlines Statement Credits:  By making a purchase from American Airlines on our credit card within the first 6 months after opening the card, we each received a $150 statement credit on our card.  The purchase could be anything such as a flight, lounge pass or a snack or drink while on the airplane.  We chose to purchase one cookie with Micah’s card on our way back to Minneapolis, and another cookie with my card on our way to Toronto.  I love the cookies and they are only $3.29 each, so essentially we came out $293.42 ahead.
  • We also planned a last minute weekend trip to Washington D.C. over Labor Day weekend–our plane tickets would have cost us $10 in fees and the Marriott hotel would have been free from the free night summer promotion we took part in, but 10 hours before our flight was supposed to depart, American Airlines called to inform us our flight was cancelled.  They put us on another flight that arrived 9 hours later than planned, but since the trip was only a short weekend away, we would have only been on the ground for a few hours and would then have to fly back early the next day.  Unfortunately, we ended up having to cancel the trip–I was pretty disappointed, but we might try to make it a Christmas trip instead.

Even with redeeming miles for the above, we still have numerous trips planned using miles and points as well as many more miles for future trips.  Websites like Travelzoo and Cheap Caribbean can also help lower costs significantly!  Hopefully you can see just how easy it can be to earn and redeem miles for travel!

What ways do you save when traveling?