Top 10 Easiest Awards to Book in 2017

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Top 10 Easiest Awards to Book in 2017

Million Mile SecretsTop 10 Easiest Awards to Book in 2017Million Mile Secrets Team

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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.

To get the Biggest Travel with Smallest Money, it’s worth the time and effort to learn award booking tricks.  But it takes practice!

If you’re looking for an easy way to to earn points and book cheap travel, I’ll give you a few ideas!  So even if you’re new to our hobby, you can begin your miles & points journey right away!

Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
Here Are Hassle-Free Deals to Help You Accomplish Your Travel Goals!

I’ll share my favorite no-brainer deals that can give you your dream vacation in no time!

Easy Award Flights and Hotels to Book 2017

Link:   Beginner’s Guide to Miles and Points

Here are my favorite deals that won’t give you a headache from award charts or transferring points!

1.   Friend or Loved One Flies With You for (Almost) Free With Southwest Companion Pass

Link:   Southwest Companion Pass

Link:   Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Link:   Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Link:   Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest award tickets are easy to book.  Their award seats are based on the cash price of their tickets.  So there’s NO award chart.

The value of Southwest points fluctuate, but you can usually get a value of ~1.25 to ~1.43 cents each.

And folks who’ve earned the Southwest Companion Pass get an even better deal.  With the Companion Pass, a friend or family member flies with you for almost free on both paid and award tickets!

And there are no blackout dates!  As long as there’s a paid seat, you can reserve an award flight.

Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
If You Have the Southwest Companion Pass, You Can Take a Friend With You for (Almost) Free. That Nearly Doubles the Value of Your Points!

Remember, you’ll pay more points if the ticket you want is very expensive (for example, if you’re booking last-minute).  And you’ll pay fewer points if seats are on sale.  Check out this post on how to tell if a Southwest sale is worthwhile!

The Southwest Companion Pass is my favorite travel deal!  And it’s easy to earn lots of Southwest points quickly by signing-up for the Chase Southwest Premier (personal or small business) or Chase Southwest Plus cards and completing the minimum spending requirements.

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, or Chase Sapphire Reserve at a ratio of 1:1.

2.   Chase Hyatt Card

Link:   Chase Hyatt

Link:   My Review of the Chase Hyatt Card

Act fast if you want to get in on one of the best deals in travel!

One of the easiest (and most valuable!) hotel deals is the Chase Hyatt card.  You’ll get 2 nights at ANY Hyatt hotel after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.

And if you’re a Hyatt member, there’s an even better offer which also comes with a $50 statement credit after your first purchase.

But the Chase Hyatt card sign-up bonus will change on June 29, 2017.  From that date, you’ll NO longer earn 2 free nights at any Hyatt after meeting minimum spending requirements.

Instead, the card will come with a 40,000 Hyatt point sign-up bonus after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.

Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
Emily Used Chase Hyatt Free Nights at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, Which Frequently Sells for $750+ per Night!

All Hyatt hotels are eligible for the free nights.  No need to worry about hotel categories and other confusing details!  Plus, each year on your card anniversary, you’ll get another free night in a category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel!

Emily and I have stayed at lots of Hyatt hotels over the years.  It’s my favorite hotel brand!  Check out our reviews of the Park Hyatt Goa, Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hyatt Regency Maui, Park Hyatt Milan, Park Hyatt Paris – Vendome, Park Hyatt SydneyPark Hyatt Zurich, and Grand Hyatt San Francisco!

You can even use the nights from the Chase Hyatt card at one of Hyatt’s all-inclusive resorts in Mexico!

Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
Use Your Free Nights to Cover the Cost of Your Stay at the All-Inclusive Hyatt Zilara

The 40,000-point sign-up bonus is NOT enough to get you 2 nights at top-tier category 6 or category 7 Hyatt hotels.  But you’ll have more flexibility to use your points for more nights at lower category Hyatt locations.

3 & 4.   Citi Prestige 4th Night Free and $250 Annual Airfare Credit

Link:   Citi Prestige Card

Link:   My Review of the Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige is NOT a sock-drawer card!  It has amazing ongoing perks, like the 4th night free on paid hotel stays and $250 annual airfare credit.  And using these perks is easy!

Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
Get 25% Off Nearly Any 4-Night Hotel Stay With the Citi Prestige!

To get the 4th night free on a paid stay, just call the Citi Prestige concierge at 561-922-0158 or email them at concierge@yourconciergecenter.com.  Just remember that after July 23, 2017, you’ll be refunded an average of the 4 nights you stay.  And Citi will no longer refund taxes.

Note:   If you choose to email, try to include as many details as possible, so there’s no back-and-forth.  Include your full name, the hotel name, room type, dates, expected amount, and last 4 digits of your Citi Prestige.  Team member Joseph prefers this method, and says the concierge usually responds with confirmation in less than an hour!

To use the airfare credit, use your Citi Prestige to book a paid flight directly from the airline.

Because you’re booking paid rooms and airfare, there are NO blackout dates.  Plus, you’ll earn miles and points for your stay or flight.

When you sign-up for the Citi Prestige and complete the minimum spending requirements, you’ll earn 40,000 Citi ThankYou points.  You can transfer them to partners for Big Travel.

5.   JetBlue Award Flights

Link:   JetBlue Card

Link:   JetBlue Plus Card

Link:   JetBlue Business Card from Barclaycard

Link:   My review of the Barclaycard JetBlue Cards

JetBlue award flights work similarly to Southwest in that the prices for award flights are tied to the cash price of the ticket.  So there’s NO confusing award chart!

There are also NO blackout dates!  So as long as JetBlue is selling seats on the plane, you can book them with JetBlue points!

Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
Million Mile Secrets Readers Love JetBlue. Its Mint Class Comes With Lie-Flat Seats, Tasty Food, and Terrific Amenities!

JetBlue points are worth ~1.4 cents each towards JetBlue flights.

Both Million Mile Secrets readers and team members really like JetBlue!  Team member Scott likes the fast Wi-Fi.  He’s also a sports fan, and enjoys the live TV!

6.   Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points for Paid Travel

Link:   Save Points (and Money) Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal

Link:   Book International Flights With Citi ThankYou Points

Link:   How to Get 1.25 Cents per Point Towards Cruises, Hotels, & Car Rentals With Citi ThankYou Premier

Here’s another way to avoid searching for award seats.  Instead of transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou points to travel partners, use them instead to book paid flights.

Folks who have the Chase Sapphire PreferredInk Business Preferred, Chase Ink Bold (no longer offered), or Chase Ink Plus (no longer available) can use their Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 1.25 cents each when they book flights, hotels, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.  And folks with the Chase Sapphire Reserve can redeem points at a rate of 1.5 cents each!

And through July 23, 2017, if you have the Citi Prestige card you can redeem Citi ThankYou points at a rate of 1.6 cents per point on paid American Airlines (and partner) flights.  Or 1.33 cents per point on other airlines.  After that, points will be worth 1.25 cents each on all airlines.

Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
Until July 23, 2017, You Can Redeem Citi ThankYou Points on American Airlines for 1.6 Cents Each!

If you just have the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you’re still able to use your Citi ThankYou points for paid flights, hotels, car rentals, and cruises at a rate of 1.25 cents each.

This is an excellent use of points if you want the most flexibility.  And remember, you’ll earn miles and points for your flights and stays, with NO blackout dates!

For flights, I prefer to transfer to Chase’s partners and use my Chase Ultimate Rewards points for international Business and First Class on United Airlines and their partner airlines.  But do what works best for you!

7.   Chase Ritz-Carlton Card

Link:   Chase Ritz-Carlton

Link:   My Review of the Chase Ritz-Carlton

After you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account, you’ll earn 2 complimentary nights at any tier 1 to 4 Ritz-Carlton hotel.

You’ll also earn 10,000 bonus Ritz-Carlton points (which are the exact same thing as Marriott points) after you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months of opening your account.

Those nights could be worth hundreds more than the $450 annual fee!

Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
The Ritz-Carlton Aruba Sells Rooms for ~$570 per Night!

You’ll receive your complimentary night certificates after you complete the minimum spending requirements.

Note:   The certificates are good for 6 months from the date of issue, not a year like other cards.

This card also comes with a $300 annual travel credit.  You can use it for airline lounge day passes, a yearly lounge membership, airline seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight internet & entertainment, in-flight meals, and Global Entry fees.

However, you can NOT use the credit for airfare purchases.

8.   Barclaycard Arrival Plus Travel Redemption

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Link:   My Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

If you want an extremely hassle-free experience redeeming miles & points, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus might be for you.  With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you’ll earn miles which you can redeem for statement credits toward $100+ travel purchases, including:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels, motels, timeshares, & campgrounds
  • Car rental agencies
  • Cruise lines
  • Travel agencies & discount travel sites
  • Trains, buses, limousines, and ferries
Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
If It Codes as a Travel Purchase and Costs $100+, You Can Redeem Arrival Miles for It!

You’ll earn 50,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening your Barclaycard Arrival Plus account.  Because Arrival miles are worth 1 cent each, that’s a sign-up bonus worth $500 in travel statement credits!

You can redeem Arrival miles for travel related purchases up to 120 days after they post to your account.

Plus, you’ll get 5% of your miles back when you redeem them for travel.

Note:   This isn’t as good a deal as it used to be!  But it’s a simple process to redeem your miles through your account online.

9.   Capital One Venture

Link:   Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Link:   My Review of the Capital One Venture

Similar to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, the Capital One Venture earns miles you can use towards most travel purchases you make on your card, such as airfare, hotels, Uber, and more!

Venture miles are worth 1 cent each.  To redeem your miles for travel, just buy travel like you normally would with your card.  Then, you have 90 days to sign-in to your online account, find the travel purchase, and “erase” it with your miles!

Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
You Can Use Capital One Venture Miles Towards a Sweet Airbnb!

It has NO minimum redemption increment when redeeming miles, unless you’re using miles to partially pay for a travel purchase.  In that case, the minimum is 2,500 miles ($25).

10.   US Bank FlexPerks Cards

Link:   US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature

Link:   U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card

The US Bank FlexPerks credit cards are another option for folks who don’t like airline award charts, and don’t want to mess with blackout dates!

You’ll earn 20,000 US Bank FlexPerks points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 4 months of opening your US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature, and 30,000 US Bank FlexPerks points when you do the same with your U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card.

20,000 US Bank FlexPerks points can be worth worth up to $400 on over 150 airlines.

Easy Award Flights And Hotels To Book 2017
No Destination Is Off-Limits With US Bank FlexPerks Points!

It makes the most sense to book a ticket as close to $400 (but not above) as possible.  That’s because you’ll pay 20,000 US Bank FlexPerks points whether your ticket costs $99 or $399!

I’ve shared the secret for how to get the full $400 on Southwest flights, even if your flight doesn’t cost that much!

And US Bank has added a nice perk to the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card.  You’ll now get 12 Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes each year.

Bottom Line

Miles & points can be as complicated or UNcomplicated as you want them to be!  You don’t have to memorize charts or spend hours trying to find available award flights and stays to get Big Travel with Small Money!

Some awards are so easy to earn and book, even brand-new miles & points enthusiasts can get started quickly!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a look at cards that offer complimentary hotel night certificates as part of the sign-up bonus.  Or collect flexible points that you can use toward paid flights or stays (with NO blackout dates!).

What are your favorite “easy” awards to book?  Let me know in the comments!

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

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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You highlight that Ritz-Carlton award nights are only good for six months. THIS WOULD APPEAR TO BE INCORRECT. I just checked my Marriott account and it indicates that my nights were awarded in March, 2017, and would expire in March, 2018—giving them a full one-year life span. You had given me quite a worry.

Incidentally, my wife and I had some glitches trying to use her three free nights at the Ritz Carlton in Aruba—the hotel said the “standard” rooms were all taken but for another $300 a night they could giver us a better room (we took it). And, just yesterday when I tried to use my free nights at the Ritz in San Francisco, I was told that they werent useable for my dates of stay in November.