What Are Your Favorite Ways to Use Miles and Points?

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What Are Your Favorite Ways to Use Miles and Points?

Million Mile SecretsWhat Are Your Favorite Ways to Use Miles and Points?Million Mile Secrets Team

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As travel enthusiasts, we all collect miles and points for different reasons.  Some of us save up for luxury vacations, First Class travel, and 5-star hotels.  Other folks prefer stretching their points, favoring coach flights, budget accommodations, and the best deals.

Others rather travel off the beaten path, staying away from chain hotels and looking for new adventures.  And some people save their points to share their love of travel with family and friends.

There’s no right or wrong way to use your miles or points!  Whether you use them for international or domestic travel, or even redeem them for gift cards if you won’t be traveling, the important thing is to do what you like with them!

What Are Your Favorite Ways To Use Miles And Points
What’s Your Travel Style? Do You Have a Favorite Way to Use Miles and Points?

Whatever your travel style, the 1 thing we all have in common is a passion (or obsession!) for Big Travel with Small Money!  So what’s your favorite way to travel using miles and points?

All Out Luxury

Are you someone who’s always dreamed of sipping champagne in a First Class suite, being pampered in world-class hotels, or enjoying fine dining at Michelin-starred restaurants?  Many folks in our hobby like to save their miles and points to indulge in luxury travel and take dream vacations.

That’s 1 of the best things about collecting miles and points.  With some planning, you can travel in high style and take trips most folks would never be able to afford.

What Are Your Favorite Ways To Use Miles And Points
Perhaps You’ve Dreamed of Flying in First Class Suite, Like This 1 on Emirates

In some cases, you don’t even have to save your points to splurge on luxury travel.  With the right credit card sign-up bonus, you can treat yourself to a 5-star experience just by meeting minimum spending requirements!

For example, the Chase Hyatt Credit Card gets you 2 free nights at any Hyatt hotel after you spend $2,000 in the 1st 3 months.   And you get free Discoverist status, which gets you free internet, late check-out, and better rooms if available.

You could use your 2 free nights at any of their top hotels, including the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino, or Park Hyatt New York.

What Are Your Favorite Ways To Use Miles And Points
Romantic Dining on the Beach at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino

You could also get 2 free weekend nights at almost any Hilton hotel (with some exclusions) with the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card after spending $2,500 in the 1st 4 months.

You could use your free weekend nights at very exclusive hotels, like the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island or Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa.

What Are Your Favorite Ways To Use Miles And Points
Take a Floatplane to the Conrad Maldives, Which Is 1 of Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 10 Beach Hotels in the World

A night at the Conrad Maldives can cost upwards of $1,300 a night!  And flights to the Maldives can cost thousands more, especially in Business Class (but you’ll have to use more points).  You could take a trip worth tens of thousands of dollars just by getting the right credit cards!

What Are Your Favorite Ways To Use Miles And Points
You Can Get a Hotel Stay Worth Thousands of Dollars Just From 1 Credit Card

So even if you’re new to the miles-and-points hobby, you can already think about treating yourself to a trip of a lifetime!

Stretch Those Miles, Make Every Point Count

Maybe you prefer getting as many trips out of your miles and points as possible.

For some, it’s all about the destination, so how they get there or where they stay isn’t as important, as long as it’s comfortable and clean.

Or perhaps you have a large family, and want to take vacations with the kids, so you want to stretch your miles.  There are lots of ways to make the most of your miles by finding the best deals and planning travel around off-peak times.

One of my favorite travel tricks is the Southwest Companion Pass.  It lets you fly with companion for almost free on paid and award tickets, and is the best deal for travel in the US, especially for couples and families.

For example, a couple and 2 children could travel very cheaply if each partner earned the companion pass.  Because on flights (even award flights!), they could take the kids for almost free!

What Are Your Favorite Ways To Use Miles And Points
Hooray! A Family of 4 Could Stretch Their Points Into Lots of Trips With 2 Southwest Companion Passes

Another favorite method for budget travel is using British Airways Avios points for short-haul American Airlines flights.  That’s because flights less than 650 miles only cost 4,500 points 1-way in coach.  Usually, a 1-way domestic ticket costs at least 12,500 miles, so this is a great bargain!

You can get British Airways Avios points by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus, or (indirectly) Chase Freedom.

Or you could earn British Airways Avios points from the Chase British Airways card.

What Are Your Favorite Ways To Use Miles And Points
You Can Get Cheap Award Flights on American Airlines by Using British Airways Avios Points

And there are some great hotel deals, too, especially if you’re flexible with travel dates or aren’t picky about brands.

For example, IHG offers hotel rooms with internet for only 5,000 points per night through their quarterly PointBreaks promotion.  And there are lots of lower category Starwood hotels that cost less than 5,000 points per night, especially for weekend stays.

Off the Beaten Path

If you’re adventurous, like traveling to remote locations, or enjoy mixing with the locals more than staying in chain hotels, you can still get Big Travel with Small Money from miles and points!

Some folks prefer bed & breakfasts, or use sites like airbnb to rent rooms, apartments, or even houses from private owners while on vacation.  And others really like to stay in hostels or campgrounds.

You can use the “miles” you earn with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard for statement credits on purchases like these kinds of accommodations (or many other travel expenses).

What Are Your Favorite Ways To Use Miles And Points
Use the Barclaycard Arrival Plus to Get a Statement Credit for Airbnb Rentals, Like This Yurt in Alaska

And because you can use Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles towards credits for lots of other travel expenses, you’re not restricted to traveling on commercial flights, either.  Trains, planes, and ferries are also included, as are attractions like theme parks, museums, and guided tours.

Spread the Love

Many of us like to share our love of travel with friends and family by using our points to book flights and hotels for others.  It’s a great way to treat our loved ones to trips and vacations they might not otherwise have been able to take.

You can use your airline miles to book flights for anyone, and it won’t cost you any extra money.

What Are Your Favorite Ways To Use Miles And Points
Emily and I Use Miles and Points to Share Our Love of Travel With Family and Friends

And if you have hotel points, it’s easy to use them to book rooms for others.  You don’t even have to be travelling with them. 

Keep in mind, it’s usually better to book award tickets or hotel stays for family and friends directly from your own account, rather than transferring points to others.  That’s because most airlines and hotels charge a fee to transfer points.

Another great way to use extra points is to donate them to charity.  Maybe you don’t have enough miles in an account for an award ticket or hotel stay, but don’t want to see them go to waste.

You can donate miles to:

What Are Your Favorite Ways To Use Miles And Points
Spread the Love by Donating Miles to Charities Like Make-A-Wish

It feels good to share miles and points with family, friends, and those less fortunate.

Bottom Line

We all have our own travel goals and different ways of using miles and points to get Big Travel with Small Money!

From luxury travel to living like a local, to traveling with family, there are ways to travel for free or cheap, no matter your travel style.

Emily and I are curious, how do you like to use your miles & points?


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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
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  • 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, 60,000 points are worth $750 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

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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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I started collecting miles and points to pay for my honeymoon this year, and I can’t get enough. We originally planned to go to Long beach here in Washington. If you have ever been to the Pacific North West you would know that beaches are not its selling point. Then I discovered the AA Citi card and realized it could help us go to Cancun while staying in the same budget.

I redeem to treat my wife to better than average vacations, and thankfully we are blessed enough to be planning a trip to NY for our anniversary next year. Can’t wait for the 330 day mark next week so I can book the flight!

My favorite strategy is to get free nights in great hotels without having to even use points, either through credit card signup bonuses such as Hyatt or Club Carlson, credit card retention bonuses such as the IHG Visa card, or promotions such as IHG Into The Nights. I got a great Into The Nights offer for a free night with two stays and am looking forward to spending a total of $165 in two HIE hotels I’d be staying in anyway and then booking myself a free room in a fancy hotel.

For me, it’s much more worth it to get multiple international trips out of my airline miles rather than splurging on first class or business class. Combining international coach trips with the Southwest Companion Pass for domestic flights allows me and my girlfriend to get some serious travel in while conserving miles.

On the hotel front, getting the Chase Hyatt Visa was one of the best miles decisions I’ve made in the miles world. We used the two free nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo and the Park Hyatt Sydney, which would have been well out of our price range normally. My favorite weapon of choice for hotels though is the Club Carlson Visa. The “last night free” benefit, the ease of earning points, and very reasonable redemption values at the lower end make it a valuable card and program.

I stretch my airline points out for the most part. Flying in Y doesn’t concern me as much getting to the destination. For a hotel, I like comfort and central locations, so often will end up spending significantly more in this area. I do very much appreciate points and cash options though, especially in European and more expensive Asian markets. Going to be taking a 2 week vacation to Goa, India almost entirely on points this winter, and also have been to places like Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Austria, all for significantly less than would have cost paying outright. Blows my friends away how I am able to travel as extensively as I do, especially to the more exotic locales. When I explain that I’m doing it for less than they do to go to Myrtle Beach, it gets some double takes to say the least lol

When I first started using points it was to celebrate a special occasion. After that I got hooked. When I started getting into points I also returned back to school to finish my degree. So points became a way for me to travel for little cost. I still grabbed business class tickets and tried to stay at the nicest places. The more I travel, the more I realize what I want from travel. My favorite moments didn’t involve the Park Hyatt Tokyo or Cathay’s First Class seat. They involved some locals we met in Hanoi taking us to the most amazing places to eat. Using my terrible Spanish with Colombian Tokyo U grad students in a Chinese restaurant in Shinjuku. Basking in the sun on the front of the boat while on the way back from snorkeling in East Bali. So while I still try to get business class seats and stay at nice places if I can it’s not really what I got out of my way to plan. It’s become about being able to travel more, meet more people, and do more things.