Well we enjoyed a lot free travel yet again in 2012, and much of this was due to taking advantage of various airline points that we acquired through intelligent use of credit card offers. For not all that much work we’ve been able to fly to all sorts of wonderful places throughout the world, and we like to make sure we keep adding points whenever we can for future travels. Below is a short recap of where we’ve been and where we’re going using various points programs.
American – No significant amount of new points were added this year, but I hope to get another Citi AA card with a sweet bonus in 2013. In January we did get to fly to Nicaragua on AA with points we already had accumulated, and that saved us like $1200. AA is great for flying to Latin America, so we definitely want to get some more of those points!
British Airways – We had a great year with BA points! First we gained 50k points on a Chase BA card. Then we gained 55k points on an Amex Business Gold Rewards card which we converted to BA points when there was a 30% transfer bonus going on, netting us 71.5k more BA points! On top of that, when I called in to cancel my Amex business card and my Chase BA card both ended up giving me 5k and 9k more points respectively. I’ll call in to cancel again at the end of this month. It’s terrible to use BA points to fly to Europe on BA though, so we plan to use them all for AA flights to Latin America. There can be some great deals doing this. For only 20k points I got my roundtrip ticket to El Salvador (leaving next week!). We’ll be flying to Ecuador in July on BA too, and it might be all on FIRST CLASS due to some sweet deals I was able to find. Shelley’s tix are already set, and I’m still working on getting First Class for my return. Will be awesome!
Capital One Rewards – I gained another 14k miles including my last 10k bonus on my Cap One credit card, and I gained a 50k bonus for the bank account that I signed up for in December 2011. Now I have around 90k miles with Cap One. I’m planning on keeping those miles for whenever I need to buy a ticket at the last minute which can be really hard to do with ‘normal’ airline points. With Cap One’s program you get to buy tickets on the open market for whatever the prices happen to be at the time, and 90k points gets you $900 to spend.
Delta – It was a reltaively quiet year for us on the Delta front, although Shelley did just book tickets with Delta for herself and her daughter to San Diego for this spring. I still have a big chunk of Delta points to use, but Delta’s program is one of the most difficult to take advantage of. I’ve read though that flying to the South Pacific on a partner airline is a great way to use Delta miles, so perhaps we’ll set our sights on New Zeeland or Papua New Guinea some time in the not-too-distant future.
Marriott – I don’t go for hotel points as often due to the way we typically travel, but the Chase Marriott card deal was too good to pass up. With the 50k easy points I was able to acquire I booked 3 free nights at a Marriott Fairfield in Corpus Christi at the last minute over the holidays when my grandfather was hospitalized. That really worded out great, so I plan to build up some more hotel points for emergencies like that or for whenever I get stuck at an airport for a night for whatever reasons.
Southwest – I didn’t get to use those 50k points I earned in 2011, and I didn’t want to pay the $99 annual fee that was coming up in September. With the SW Chase card, whenever you cancel the card you lose whatever points you have. Immediately after getting a 7,500 annual bonus for the cc I booked a bogus flight to New Orleans during the holidays which used almost all the 57k+ points that I had. I then canceled the credit card to avoid the $99 fee. Then I canceled the ticket and all the points used for the ticket went directly to my Southwest account (not the cc account) thereby saving 57k points for future travels. And these travels might include Mexico due to Southwest’s relationship with AirTran.
United – It was another good year for us with UA as well. I earned 55k miles with them via a new credit card, and I just signed up for another card that will net me the same amount of miles with them. We did have a bad experience with UA on our (free) flights to Africa this year, but we were able to each get 30k points back into our UA accounts for our troubles, all good. On top of the flights to Africa, we also flew to Cambodia and Laos for free on UA points last year. That’s about $6000 in free flights with UA in 2012! And just last month I booked a free flight on UA to Myamar for May of this year, another $1600 of free travel. And many of those flights will be with Singapore Airlines which is wayyy more comfortable than UA. And Shelley booked her tickets with 35k UA points to Mexico, where she is now, with connecting flights on to El Salvador where I will meet her next week.
US Air – I didn’t use any US Air points this year, but I did get another easy 30k of bonus miles with them via another credit card that I signed up for. So I now have about 65k points with them which will likely get me another trip to Southeast Asia, or perhaps we’ll head back to Africa some time soon.
So 2012 was another fantastic year for our airline points games, and 2013 is going to be great for us too with trips to Mexico, El Salvador, San Diego, Myanmar, and Ecuador already planned. We’ll of course be blogging about our experiences along the way, so make sure to stay in touch!