Well as we enter a new year, I thought it would be a good time to recap what I’ve been able to accomplish and obtain with my various airline points rewards programs. Again, with a relatively small amount of work you can save yourself literally thousands of dollars in travel expenses. And as good as I feel about what I was able to do this past year, there are many, many others out there who did even more. So in other words, if you aren’t playing the airline points game you are truly missing out. Below we share some of our top tips and methods via video:
Here is a quick run-down of the points that I acquired:
American – In February I signed up for a CitiBusiness AAdvantage Visa with the first year fee waived, and for spending $4000 on the card in six months I got a total of 79k miles.
Capital One Rewards – I gained 10k points in January for having spent $3000 the prior year, and I will gain my last 10k bonus points later this month for spending the same amount in 2011. From a points perspective this isn’t that lucrative of a card, but I wanted to have a Capital One credit card anyway due to their not having fees on international charges. So I figured I may as well gain some bonus points along the way. Also, just last month I signed up for a Cap One business checking account and a money market account that will net me an additional 50k points by the end of February.
Delta – Quite frankly I think Delta has the worst airlines points program out of the major airlines, because it is so hard to use your points efficiently with them. I probably won’t try to obtain any more points with them unless I run across a way that is crazy easy for a big chunk of points. Having said that though I netted 96k points with Delta at the beginning of 2011 by signing up with two Amex Gold Cards. Their annual fees are coming up, so unless Amex waives the fees for them I will be cancelling those cards soon.
Southwest – I signed up for a Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card in August to obtain 50k miles for only using the card a single time. I did have to pay a $99 annual fee, but it was more than worth it for so many miles for only one usage on the card (I think I bought a 6-pack of beer 🙂 ). I will of course cancel the card before the next annual fee comes up.
United/Continental – As you may know United and Continental are in the process of merging, so any points gained with one can be used with the other as well. At the beginning of 2011 I signed up for two new bank accounts with Chase during a special offer, and I got 62.5k miles with Continental, plus an additional 12.5 miles on a screw up in their system. I had to pay $90 in fees to get the debit cards necessary to participate, but like the Southwest points this was more than worth it for the points I received.
US Air – I signed up for a Barclay’s US Airways Dividend Miles card, paid an $89 fee, used the card once and got 35k points. Again, the fee was worth it, and I’ll cancel the card before the next fee is due. I am also in the process of getting a US Premier World Mastercard for another $89 fee that will obtain me another 30k points. One good thing about these credit cards is that they also allow you to save 5k points when you book your ticket with US Air. I found out that Shelley and I may be able to get roundtrip tickets to Africa for as few as 65k points each – sweet!
So this past year was a pretty awesome year for me when it came to obtaining airline points. And here is what I did with my various points in 2011:
In March I purchased a ticket from Austin to Seattle with a return ticket from Vancouver for 25k miles with Continental. From what I saw on Kayak this saved me about $500. Shelley did the same thing with miles she had.
In May I obtained tickets for Shelley and me to Nicaragua (leaving in just a few days!) for 65k American miles. This saved us like $1200 total.
And last but not least, I used 130k Continental/United miles to purchase tickets for both of us to Southeast Asia. I’ll be flying to Cambodia to do some development work with WOWi and the Ponheary Ly Foundation, and then I will fly to Laos where Shelley will fly in to meet me. Using miles for these tickets saved us a whopping $3400!!
Again, 2011 was a fantastic year for my airline points games, and Shelley and I will be enjoying the fruits of my endeavors in style VERY soon. We are heading to Nicaragua this Wednesday where as usual we will be using many of the travel strategies to save money that we talk about in our book. We’ll be blogging about our experiences along the way, and we’ll do the same when we head to Laos. Please make sure to stay in touch!