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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!
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
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
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 there are no blackout dates! As long as there’s a paid seat, you can reserve an award flight.
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.
2. Chase Hyatt Card
Link: Chase Hyatt
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.
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 Sydney, Park Hyatt Zurich, and Grand Hyatt San Francisco!
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
To get the 4th night free on a paid stay, just call the Citi Prestige concierge at 561-922-0158 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
5. JetBlue Award Flights
Link: JetBlue Card
Link: JetBlue Plus Card
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!
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
Folks who have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink 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.
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
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!
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
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:
- Hotels, motels, timeshares, & campgrounds
- Car rental agencies
- Cruise lines
- Travel agencies & discount travel sites
- Trains, buses, limousines, and ferries
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.
9. Capital One Venture
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!
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
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.
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!
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!