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Last fall I booked an amazing trip to Dublin, Ireland, with my daughter to celebrate her 13th birthday. Dublin was incredible, as was our day trip to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher.
We enjoyed non-stop flights on Aer Lingus, and experienced 2 different (and lovely) hotels – including an incredible suite upgrade – all without spending a fortune.
All told, we got over $3,400 worth of flights and hotels by redeeming miles and points from the best travel credit cards (mostly Chase credit cards) for our adventure.
But it’s not the savings that made this trip so special. Getting to spend one-on-one time with my daughter and making memories we’ll never forget was priceless.
I’ll share how I booked the trip, and how you can do the same!
Miles and Points Mostly From Chase Credit Cards Got Us to Ireland
Read our post on the best Chase credit cards
1. We Saved a Ton of Points by Booking This Award Flight Sweet Spot
One of the cheapest ways to get to Europe from North America, particularly the East Coast, is by redeeming British Airways Avios points for flights on their partner, Aer Lingus. (You can redeem Aer Lingus Avios points too.)
Because British Airways and Aer Lingus have a distance-based award chart, flights from cities like New York, Boston, and Toronto to Dublin only cost 26,000 points round-trip per person in coach. That’s steal compared to other programs like United Airlines, which charges 60,000 United Airlines miles for the same route.
I had enough British Airways Avios points in my account (earned from the British Airways Visa Signature® Card) to book my daughter and myself 2 round-trip tickets between Toronto and Dublin. Taxes and fees were reasonable at just over $100 per person round-trip.
Had we paid cash for these flights, we’d have been out of pocket ~$1,056 each. So by redeeming British Airways Avios points we got flights worth over $1,900 ($1,056 fare X 2 – $200 taxes).
The great thing about British Airways is they’re a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, AMEX Membership Rewards, and Marriott. So if you need to to top-off your account balance, it’s easy (and instant) to move points from cards like:
2. An Incredible Suite Upgrade at the InterContinental Dublin
I redeemed an uncapped free night certificate from the Chase IHG card (no longer available), plus an additional 50,000 IHG points at the InterContinental Dublin for a 2-night stay. While you can still get a free night certificate with the new IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, it’s only valid at hotels that cost 40,000 IHG points per night or less.
When I made the reservation, I mentioned it was my daughter’s 13th birthday celebration and asked if there was anything they could do to make her stay extra special. Wow, did the InterContinental Dublin ever deliver!
They upgraded us to an absolutely gorgeous junior suite, and left my daughter birthday goodies and treats along with a card.
Having automatic Platinum elite status from the Chase IHG card (which also comes with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card) probably didn’t hurt. Junior suites around that time of year usually cost ~$537 per night, so we got a 2-night stay worth ~$1,074 by using points, a free night certificate, and asking nicely for an upgrade.
3. Old School Charm at the Radisson Blu St. Helens
OK, so I didn’t use points from Chase credit cards to book the Radisson Blu St. Helens, but I certainly could have. You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for hotels through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, including properties that aren’t transfer partners.
I ended up redeeming some Radisson points I had withering away in my account for 2 nights at this hotel (100,000 Radisson points total). But if I’d wanted to book with Chase points, I would have paid just under 18,000 Ultimate Rewards points per night.
For our dates, rooms at the Radisson Blu St. Helens were going for ~$222 per night, so we got a room worth ~$444 for 2 nights total.
Not quite as fabulous a redemption as the InterContinental Dublin, but the hotel was lovely and charming nonetheless. It’s built around an 18th-century estate ~7 miles outside of the city center, with gorgeous gardens on a sprawling property.
Instead of buying my daughter “stuff” for her 13th birthday, I took her on a 4-night trip to Ireland to celebrate this milestone. We had an incredible time, and paid pennies on the dollar thanks to miles and points earned from top Chase credit cards.
In total, we got:
- Nearly $2,000 worth of round-trip flights between Toronto and Dublin on Aer Lingus by redeeming 52,000 British Airways Avios points (a Chase transfer partner)
- Over $1,000 in value at the InterContinental Dublin for 2 nights thanks to IHG points (also a Chase transfer partner), where they upgraded us to a junior suite on account of my daughter’s birthday
- ~$450 in hotel nights at the charming Radisson Blu St. Helens. I used Radisson points, but if you don’t collect them, it’s super easy to redeem Chase points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal for a stay here
You could easily take a similar trip by using points earned from Chase credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, or Chase Sapphire Reserve. And make memories for a lifetime!
Have you ever surprised a loved one with a birthday trip? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!