2016’s 10 Best Deals in Travel

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Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

Last year, I shared my Top 10 Deals in Travel with y’all.  And while some of those terrific deals are still available, it’s time for a 2016 update!

If you’re new to the miles and points hobby, these 10 deals are an excellent way to get started on your way to Big Travel with Small Money.

Before you start signing-up for credit cards, it’s important to consider your travel goals to decide which miles & points are best to collect for your trip!

2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Where Do You Want to Go? I’ll Show You My Top 10 Best Deals in Travel Right Now!

Let’s look at current top 10 best travel deals and how you can use them to get Big Travel with Small Money quickly!

My Top 10 Favorite Travel Deals

Link:   Beginner’s Guide to Miles & Points

Link:   Hot Deals

Whether you’re new to miles & points or a hobby veteran, prefer domestic or international travel, or just want to get the most bang for your buck, these deals offer something for everybody!

1.   Buy 1, Get 1 Flights With Southwest 50,000 Point Offers and Companion Pass

Link:   Southwest Companion Pass

Link:   Chase Southwest Premier (Personal)

Link:   Chase Southwest Premier (Small Business)

Link:   Chase Southwest Plus

The Southwest Companion Pass is still my favorite deal for domestic travel.  With the Southwest Companion Pass, a friend or family member can travel with you for almost free on paid and award tickets…for up to 2 years!

That nearly doubles the value of your Southwest points.  And it’s easy to earn the Companion Pass now, because all 3 Southwest cards have increased 50,000 point sign-up bonuses.

2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Fly Almost 2-for-1 With the Southwest Companion Pass

You’ll qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass when you earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year.  By signing-up for 2 cards and meeting the minimum spending requirements, you’ll be most of the way there!

And it’s not as hard as you think to earn the rest of the points required!  Check out my post on the best ways to time your spending for the Southwest Companion Pass.

Just be sure to avoid these 3 common mistakes!

2.   Two Nights at Luxury Hotels With the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

Link:   Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

Link:   My Review of the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

If you’d like to splurge on a luxury resort or top-category hotel, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve gets you 2 weekend nights at almost ANY Hilton – even their most expensive locations!

You’ll earn 2 weekend night certificates after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first 4 months of opening your account.

2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Treat Yourself to a Stay at the Beautiful Waldorf Astoria Park City, Utah – A Terrific Spot in Winter and Summer!

Hilton hotels include Conrad, Canopy, Curio, DoubleTreeEmbassy SuitesHampton InnHiltonHilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations, Home2Suites, Homewood Suites, Tru, and Waldorf Astoria brand hotels.

Check out my series on Hilton’s top-rated hotels for ideas on how to use your weekend night certificates!  Depending on where you use them, you could save $1,000+!

Remember, you’ll earn your certificates shortly after the statement in which you complete the minimum spending closes.  And you’ll have 1 year from the date they’re issued to complete your stay.

3.   Two Nights at Amazing 5-Star Hyatt Hotels

Link:   Chase Hyatt

Link:   My Review of the Chase Hyatt

Here’s another opportunity to live like a king (or queen) for 2 nights with ONE credit card sign-up bonus!

With the Chase Hyatt card, you’ll earn TWO nights at ANY Hyatt after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.

Plus, you’ll earn 5,000 bonus Hyatt points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase within the same timeframe.

2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Use the 2 Nights From the Chase Hyatt Card at ANY Hyatt, Like the Park Hyatt Sydney Overlooking the Harbor

There’s a $75 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year.  Many folks keep this card year after year, because you get a night in any category 1 to 4 Hyatt on your card anniversary.

Emily and I have enjoyed terrific stays at Hyatt hotels like the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Grand Hyatt Macau, Hyatt Regency Maui, Park Hyatt Vendome Paris, Park Hyatt Sydney, and Park Hyatt Zurich.

You should see your Hyatt certificates in your account after you complete the minimum spending and your statement closes.  And you’ll have a year from the date the certificates were issued to complete your stay.

Use the certificates at any Hyatt, including their all-inclusive resorts!  It’s a fantastic deal!

4.   4th Hotel Night Free & Other Perks With Citi Prestige

Update:   Beginning July 23, 2017, the 4th night free perk will refund the average cost of a 4-night stay, NOT including taxes. 

Link:   Citi Prestige

Link:   My Review of the Citi Prestige

Some folks balk at the Citi Prestige $450 annual fee, but if you know how to make the most of this card’s perks, you can get incredible value – worth well more than the annual fee!

You’ll earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your Citi Prestige account. (EXPIRED.)

It also comes with terrific perks, including the 4th night free on paid hotel stays when you book through the Citi Prestige Concierge.

2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Planning a Paid Stay? Get Your Fourth Night Free When You Book With the Citi Prestige Concierge – Even If It’s the Most Expensive Night!

You can make this deal even better by stacking it with other discounts.  And by planning stays where your last night is the most expensive night, because you get a statement credit for the actual cost of your fourth night!

There’s no limit to the number of times you can use this perk.  And you’ll receive points, stay credits, and elite status perks at the hotel, just as you would if you booked directly!

Remember, you can also save on airfare with the Citi Prestige $250 annual airline fee credit or use your Citi ThankYou points at 1.6 cents each toward paid flights on American Airlines (or international partners) through July 23, 2017.  And golfers get 3 (or more) free rounds of golf per year through July 23, 2017!

5.   Starwood 5th Night Free or Hotel & Flight Packages

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Link:   How to Use Starwood Points

Starwood points are valuable because there are so many things you can do with them!  And when you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to airline partners, you’ll earn a 5,000 mile bonus.  So for instance, 20,000 Starwood points becomes 25,000 American Airlines miles!

But you’ll often do better by using Starwood points for stays at Starwood hotels, and taking advantage of the 5th night free on award stays in category 3 to 7 hotels!

2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Get the 5th Night Free on Award Stays at Starwood Category 3 to 7 Hotels, Like the Category 6 Sheraton Waikiki

Here are some of my favorite Starwood hotels in Europe, the US, the Caribbean & Mexico, Asia & Australia, Central & South America, and on US beaches!

And there are other ways to stretch your Starwood points!  Combine Cash & Points for a longer (or nicer!) stay.  Or save points by booking Nights & Flights.

Check out my updated post on how to get 5 nights & 2 airline tickets to Disney with 2 Starwood cards!

6.   Short Expensive Domestic Flights (Including West Coast to Hawaii), Use British Airways Avios Points

Link:   Chase British Airways – Total of 75,000 Points

You can earn a total of 75,000 British Airways Avios points with the Chase British Airways card when you complete the tiered minimum spending requirements(EXPIRED.)

But you’ll have to spend $15,000 in a year to earn the full bonus.  That said, it’s worth a LOT of Big Travel!

One of the best deals using British Airways Avios points is for flights to Hawaii from the West Coast on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines.

2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Whether You’re Going With Your Sweetheart or Just to “Hang Loose,” Hawaii Is an Easy Award Flight From the West Coast Using British Airways Avios Points

It costs only 25,000 British Airways Avios points for a round-trip coach award ticket with no fuel surcharges.

So the current sign-up bonus from the Chase British Airways card could get you 3 round-trip award tickets from the West Coast to Hawaii!

Short-haul domestic flights on Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are still a good deal, even though British Airways changed its award chart earlier this year.

Flights under 1,150 miles are only 7,500 British Airways Avios points one-way in coach.  That’s a better deal than using points from major US airlines.

So the Chase British Airways sign-up bonus could get you 10 one-way short-haul coach award flights on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines in the US!  That’s an excellent deal from one credit card!

7.   3 Free Nights at ANY Wyndham Hotel (Including All-Inclusive Resorts)

Link:   Barclaycard Wyndham Rewards

Link:   My Review of the Barclaycard Wyndham Rewards

Here’s an easy way to earn 3 free nights at any Wyndham hotel (even expensive Wyndham Grand locations and all-inclusive Wyndham Viva resorts) from one credit card sign-up bonus!

You can earn 45,000 Wyndham points (worth 3 nights at any Wyndham hotel!) after you complete the minimum spending on the premium Barclaycard Wyndham Rewards card with a $69 annual fee.

You’ll earn 30,000 Wyndham points after your first purchase.  And you’ll earn an additional 15,000 Wyndham points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening your account.

2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Earn Enough Points for 3 Nights at Any Wyndham Hotel, Like the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa in Puerto Rico

Wyndham runs its loyalty program a little differently.  All hotels cost 15,000 Wyndham points per night – from the cheapest Super 8 and Travelodge motels to their high-end Wyndham Grand and Wyndham Viva locations.

So it makes the most sense to use the 45,000 point sign-up bonus for their priciest resorts, because their budget hotels are typically inexpensive and better as paid stays.

Wyndham hotels include:

Remember, Barclaycard will typically only approve folks for 1 or 2 cards each year.  So choose carefully!

8.  Ultra-Luxury First Class Flights to Europe or Discounted Award Flights to Europe & Hawaii Using Singapore Airlines Miles

Link:   Fly Amazing First Class Suite to Europe With Little More Than 1 Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus

Link:  Deals on Award Flights in US (Including Hawaii) Using Starwood Points

Did you know you can save miles on flights to Europe or Hawaii by using Singapore Airlines miles to book award flights?

Most folks can easily earn Singapore Airlines miles, because they’re a partner of all 4 transferable points programs (American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest).

And you can earn Singapore Airlines miles when you fly JetBlue!

For example, you can fly a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 between New York and Frankfurt (including the 15% online booking discount) for:

  • 17,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 48,875 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 57,375 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class
2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Singapore Airlines Is Consistently Rated One of the Best Airlines in the World for Their Incredible Service

17,000 miles for a one-way flight to Europe is an excellent deal!  To compare, United Airlines charges 30,000 miles for a one-way coach award flight to Europe.

And if you want to splurge, you could spend just 57,375 Singapore Miles for an amazing First Class suite!

If you’re traveling to Hawaii, consider using Singapore Airlines miles to book United Airlines award flights.  You’ll save 10,000 to 20,000 miles compared to booking with United Airlines miles!

9.   Use Fewer American Airlines Miles to See the World by Traveling Off-Season

Link:   Citi AAdvantage Executive

Link:   Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select

Link:   CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select

Link:   Top 5 Cheap Ways to Get to Europe Using Miles & Points

American Airlines recently changed their award chart, but you can still get good deals on off-peak season travel to many destinations!  If your travel dates are flexible, you can save miles.

For example, you’ll normally pay 60,000 miles round-trip for a coach flight between the US and Europe on American Airlines or one of their partners, .

But during off-peak times (January 10 – March 14, and November 1 – December 14), it only costs 45,000 miles round-trip.

Note:   Off-peak award pricing is only valid on American Airlines flights and not partner flights (except to Europe).

2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Avoid Crowds and Save American Airlines Miles When You Travel to Europe in the Off-Peak Season

American Airlines also has off-peak award pricing between the US and:

  • Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America:  September 7 – November 14, April 27 – May 20
  • China & Hong Kong:   To China/Hong Kong:  January 1 – April 30, July 1 – September 30, October 11 – November 30
    From China/Hong Kong:  February 1 – May 31, September 1 – 19, October 2 – December 31
  • Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Manaus (Brazil):  January 16 – June 14, September 7 – November 14
  • Hawaii:  To Hawaii: December 29 – March 12, August 11 – November 18, November 24 – December 10
    From Hawaii: January 7 – March 19, August 18 – November 27, December 3 – December 25
  • Japan:  To Japan:  January 1 – April 30, July 1 – November 30
    From Japan:  January 16 – April 19, May 2 – 31, September 1 – December 31
  • Korea:   To Korea:  January 1 – April 30, July 1 – November 30
    From Korea:  January 16 – May 31, September 1 – December 31

If your travel dates line up, this is a terrific way to save miles!

Remember, if you have certain credit cards, you can save 5,000 to 7,500 American Airlines miles round-trip on domestic (US and Canada) flights with American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards!

Note:  You’ll save 1,000 to 2,000 American Airlines miles round-trip on flights 500 miles or less.

Besides earning American Airlines miles from their credit cards, you can transfer Starwood points to American Airlines.  

Transfer 20,000 Starwood points to American Airlines (or any partner airline with a 1:1 transfer ratio) and you’ll get a 5,000 mile bonus for a total of 25,000 American Airlines miles.

10.   Monthly Discounts Make It Easier to Get to Europe, the Middle East, & Near Asia With Flying Blue Promo Awards

Link:   Air France / KLM Flying Blue Promo Awards

Each month, Flying Blue (Air France and KLM’s frequent flyer program) offers discounts of 25% to 50% on award flights between certain cities.  (You likely have access to Flying Blue miles, I’ll explain in a moment!)

And sometimes, flights between Europe and several US cities are included!  You’ll still pay taxes and fees, but save on miles!

Flying Blue Promo Awards have been hit-and-miss lately, but it’s worth checking back every month to see if you can get a deal.

What’s even better about these awards is your flights don’t have to end in Amsterdam or Paris (the destinations served directly by KLM and Air France from the North America).  You can connect onward to other cities in Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Near Asia for the same number of miles!

2016's 10 Best Deals In Travel

Amsterdam Is Beautiful, but You Don’t Have to Stop There! Continue Onward to Other Cities for the Same Number of Miles

You must use Flying Blue miles (and not miles from one of their SkyTeam partners, like Delta) to book Flying Blue Promo Awards.

But you can transfer your AMEX Membership RewardsCiti ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest points to the Flying Blue program to take advantage of these sales.

And keep your eye out for transfer bonuses to make the deal even sweeter!

I’ll remind y’all when the monthly awards are an especially good deal.

Bottom Line

There are so many great deals available to help you stretch your miles & points and get Big Travel with Small Money!

Many of these deals have been around for a while, some deals come and go, and a few are for a limited time!  Some of my favorites:

Did I miss your favorite travel deal?  What would you add to my list?

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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5 responses to “2016’s 10 Best Deals in Travel

  1. Citi Prestige flight credit is $250 and not $200.

  2. @Maury – Thanks for the catch! Updated.

  3. Hi Daraius,

    I came across your post for bank direct and was hoping you could refer me.

    Thank you,

  4. Awesome deals!

    I use the United Milage Plus Explorer and keep forgetting that I get TWO United Lounge passes each year. That’s easily $100 in savings considering the Lounge fees I don’t have to pay and then the free food and drink. Showers sometimes too in the right airports!

    Thanks for the list of more opportunities to maximize travel.

  5. Interesting and informative list, wondering why the current big Marriott, HiTom, and IHG bonus sign up and on going perks aren’t mentioned