6 Insider Tips To Save BIG on Family Travel

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Family travel is a huge part of the miles & points world.  Lots of folks get into this hobby because they want to visit family, or they want to vacation with their family.

David, author of Wise Flys, is a family travel expert.  So I asked him to share with you his top tips for traveling with a family each week!

David:   Family travel can be challenging for miles & points enthusiasts.  For example, finding multiple available award seats on a flight can be an obstacle.  And of course, you must have a larger stash of rewards compared to if you’re just booking solo travel.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot using credit card rewards to travel with my wife and daughter to 10+ countries, including Costa Rica!

6 Insider Tips To Save BIG On Family Travel
There Are Some Challenges to Using Miles & Points for Family Travel. But With Creativity and the Right Strategy, You Can Take Vacations for a Fraction of the Retail Price!

I’ll share my tips and experiences to help you plan a family trip using miles & points!

Learn How to Use Miles & Points to Save Money on Family Travel!

Link:   Beginner’s Guide to Miles & Points

If you’re just starting in the miles & points hobby or struggle to use the rewards you earn, consider these tips to help achieve your family travel goals!

1.   Multiple Family Members Can Take Advantage of Valuable Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Unless you’re a big spender, using a dusty old credit card for your regular spending likely won’t earn you enough rewards to take a nearly free family vacation.  Or it will take you a really long time!

The easiest and fastest way to earn enough miles & points to book family award travel is to sign-up for credit cards with big bonuses.  When a great offer comes along, my wife and I submit separate applications.  This way, we can each earn the sign-up bonus.

For example, when you sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth $625+ in travel) after meeting the minimum spending requirements.

You can transfer the sign-up bonus points to Korean Air to book 2 round-trip coach award flights to Hawaii on SkyTeam partner Delta.  So if you and a partner both earn the Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus, you’ll have enough points to book flights to Hawaii for a family of four!

6 Insider Tips To Save BIG On Family Travel
You and a Partner Can Both Take Advantage of Valuable Rewards Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses to Make It Easier to Book Family Award Travel, Like Round-Trip Flights to Hawaii!

2.   Pool Miles & Points With Family Members

Another tip for families is to share rewards with each other, when possible.  Sometimes your account balance is just shy of what’s required to book a hotel award night or an award flight.

Some credit card and loyalty programs allow you do this for free, including:

3.   Book Award Travel From a Different Family Member’s Account

Some credit card and travel programs don’t allow you to combine points with a family member, including American Express Membership Rewards.  But there’s a family award travel strategy you can use to make the most of points in different accounts.

For example, most frequent flyer programs allow you to book one-way awards.  This is useful if you don’t have enough miles in one account to book a round-trip award flight.  So you can use miles from one family member’s account to book an outbound flight.  Then, book the return flight from a different frequent flyer account.

With hotel award stays you can do something similar.  For example, let’s say you and a partner have enough American Express Membership Rewards points to book a 5-night award stay at a Choice Hotel (1:1 AMEX hotel transfer partner), but the points are in separate accounts.

Each of you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to your own Choice loyalty account.  Then, book consecutive award nights from the different accounts.  You shouldn’t have to change rooms when you change reservations.  At check-in, just let the front desk know that you made multiple reservations.

6 Insider Tips To Save BIG On Family Travel
Sometimes You Don’t Have Enough Points in One Account to Book a Desired Reservation. So You Can Book Consecutive Award Nights From Separate Hotel Loyalty Accounts to Avoid Paying for a Stay

4.   Set Realistic Expectations

When it comes to family award travel, earning miles & points tends to be the easy part.  The challenge can be finding available award seats for everyone in the family.

Sometimes, you’ll have to compromise or be flexible with your travel dates in order to make the most of your rewards.  Booking award flights for everyone in the family might mean taking a route with a layover, even if a non-stop option is available for sale.

Being flexible when booking award travel can potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars, which you can use for fun family activities for your vacation!

5.   Plan Vacations Far in Advance

An unavoidable obstacle that affects families trying to use miles & points is planning around school schedules.  The limited travel dates often means trying to find award seats during peak travel times when most other families travel.

Fortunately, most school districts publish their calendars 6 to 12 months in advance.  This means you can plan your vacations in advance.

Some airlines release their award seats 330 days prior to departure.  In my experience, you’ll typically have more award flight options the sooner you book.  That said, if you have flexibility to book last-minute, available award seats appear closer to departure dates, too.

6 Insider Tips To Save BIG On Family Travel
We Used Fewer Miles for Our Recent Family Trip to Europe and Africa by Booking Flights in Advance and Traveling Off-Peak!

6.   Look Out for New Flight Routes

Another trick to finding several available award seats for a family trip is to keep an eye out for new flight routes.  Typically, there’s a larger number of available award seats when a new route is announced.

For 2018, American Airlines and United Airlines are expected to launch 10 new routes each, including a new non-stop route between San Francisco and Tahiti.

I also recommend checking your local airport’s website for news about new routes.

Bottom Line

You can book amazing family vacations by taking advantage of miles & points deals!  But sometimes booking family award travel can be a challenge.  For example, if you’re unable to find multiple available award seats on a flight.

But there are a few tricks to make it easier to book family award travel.  Many popular credit card programs, including Chase Ultimate Rewards, allow you to combine points with a member of the same household.  So you can transfer points to a partner and then book multiple award flights from one account.

Planning ahead is also very important.  If you’re traveling with school age children, I recommend booking your vacations once you take a look at the school calendar.  In my experience, you’ll typically have more award flights the sooner you book.

Please share your family award travel tips in the comments!

Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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