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Travel Credit Card Success: Business Class Flight to Europe and Chase Sapphire Reserve Baggage Delay Insurance to the Rescue!

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Travel Credit Card Success: Business Class Flight to Europe and Chase Sapphire Reserve Baggage Delay Insurance to the Rescue!

Million Mile SecretsTravel Credit Card Success: Business Class Flight to Europe and Chase Sapphire Reserve Baggage Delay Insurance to the Rescue!Million Mile Secrets Team

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Welcome to the next installment of our Reader Success Series where Million Mile Secrets Readers share how they booked a trip with miles & points to get Big Travel with Small Money!

Stuart is our newest reader success story to show folks it’s possible to travel without spending a lot of money.  If you would like to be inspired by more stories like this one, take a second to subscribe to our newsletter!  Or check out our guides to learn how YOU can start booking vacations with miles & points!

Stuart Success Story
Be Sure to Take a Day Trip Out of the City! Loch Lomond Was Definitely a Highlight of the Trip.

1. What’s your name and how long have you been involved in the miles and points hobby?

Hi, my name is Stuart, and my wife and I have been involved in the hobby for 5 years now!

2. What was the goal of your trip?

We travel every now and then, but every 5 years we take a bigger trip to celebrate our anniversary.  This was one of those bigger trips, and we wanted to see a lesser-known part of Europe.

Stuart Success Story
If you Visit the Hay Market District of Edinburgh on the Weekends, You Can Usually Find It’s Filled With Tourists and Locals Alike. You’ll Also Find Plenty of Crafts, Food, and Entertainment!

3. How long did you collect miles and points for your trip?

It took us about 2.5 years to earn enough points for this trip.  We live in a small town in Arkansas, so getting to Edinburgh, and then back home from Ljubljana, was no easy task!

4. Which points did you save to take this trip?

My wife and I each have the United MileagePlus® Club Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard , so we redeemed mostly United Airlines and American Airlines miles for this trip.

I’m also always looking for ways to earn more bonus miles & points, and happened to be quite fortunate in the past.  For instance, just as we needed a new cell phone, we found out that Apple was offering a bonus of 5x miles per $1 spent.  We had also won miles by entering various contests offered on various blogs, so that helped as well.

We earned enough points to fly Business Class, paying just $225.  Without our big stash of points, we would have had to pay several thousand dollars!

Stuart Success Story
High Tea at the Colonnades is Not to be Missed. The Food and Atmosphere Were Fit for Royalty!

5. Which cards would you recommend for a trip like yours?

We would highly recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  The $450 annual fee was a bit intimidating for us to begin with, but after seeing the value of the card’s benefits, we’re really happy we decided to invest in the card.

For instance, the card’s $300 annual travel credit would have covered one night at a hotel in New York when we ended up missing a flight.  We ended up not using the credit here, but it was nice having the peace of mind!

The card also comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, which made our layovers much more relaxing!

6. How did you search and find award flights?

We redeemed miles for our entire trip, so we basically just went to the individual airline websites to search for award seat availability.

If you’re going to do something similar, make sure you create an account with each airline.  We seemed to find a LOT more award availability when we were logged in to our United account, compared to when we were browsing the website as a guest.

Creating an account for each airline’s website just takes a matter of minutes, so it’s well worth it!

7. How did you find your hotel accommodations?

We spent a week in Edinburgh, and then another week in Ljubljana, renting apartments through Airbnb.  Since we didn’t have any points to use with Airbnb, we just relied on the $300 travel credit through our Chase Sapphire Reserve® card to cover some of these costs.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Airbnb’s, and we made use of the kitchens to save on food expenses.

Stuart Success Story
Both Casual and the More Elegant Restaurants Can Be Enjoyed Outdoors So You Can Take in the Wonderful Scenery. Fresh Fish and Slovenian Wine are Must Haves!

8. What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?

We missed a connecting flight in New York, and if that wasn’t bad enough, somehow our bags went somewhere else.  We landed in Edinburgh with our bags nowhere to be found, which is not exactly the start you want to your trip!  Fortunately, we took advantage of Chase Sapphire Reserve baggage delay insurance, and we were eventually reimbursed for the out-of-pocket expenses we incurred while we waited the 3 days for our luggage to finally arrive.

Here’s the automatic baggage delay coverage you get with the Sapphire Reserve:

  • If your baggage is delayed for more than 6 hours, you could be reimbursed for purchases of essential items (i.e. clothing, toiletries, cell phone charging cables, and more)
  • Up to $100 per day for a maximum of 5 days

9. Give us a few recommendations for what to do at your destination.  Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.

Forage & Chatter is an amazing restaurant in Edinburgh!  We were really lucky to get a table on short notice, because it’s apparently VERY popular with tourists and locals alike!  Also, when the restaurant found out we were celebrating our anniversary, they gave us a quick Whisky 101 lesson.  Overall, the entire experience was top notch.  The meal was fantastic, we had a great time with whisky tasting, and we even got to meet the owner of the restaurant!

If you happen to visit Ljubljana, you should know it’s a great town for just walking around.  It has a very low-key under-the-radar feel to it.  And be sure to take a day trip to Lake Bled!  Tours are very inexpensive, and the views are out of this world!

Stuart Success Story
Ljubljana at Night is Alive With Families and Tourists Enjoying Everything From Craft Beer to Gelato.

10. What did you learn about yourself on the trip?

We learned that taking one of these big trips every 5 years just isn’t enough!  Hopefully, with patience and more research, we’ll find more ways to more quickly earn miles and points for our next one.

11. What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip?  Or to those who have not taken a miles & points trip yet!

Plan, plan, plan!  You don’t necessarily have to plan EVERY single step, but make sure you do enough research!  Register for each individual airline website, try to look for deals for as few miles as possible, and try to travel to places you’ve never been before!

This was our first time to these places on this trip, and it was too good of a deal to pass up given how few miles we redeemed!

Want to Share Your Story?

If you’d like to be considered for our Reader Success Series, please send us a note!  We would love to hear about how you travel with miles and points!

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Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Earn 50,000 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®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

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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Something doesn’t make sense here. You said “It took us about 2.5 years to earn enough points” And “My wife and I each have the United MileagePlus® Club Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, so we redeemed mostly United Airlines and American Airlines miles for this trip. “

With just the sign up bonuses and spend required to meet them, you most likely could have earned the necessary miles for the flights. Since you stayed in AirB&Bs you weren’t using points, so I don’t understand how it could take you 2.5 years to accrue the needed miles. If your budget didn’t allow for that much spending in a given year, then I wonder why you would be be paying hefty fees for the UA Club cards in addition to the CSRs for multiple years if that’s the case.

Since this was a special trip, we wanted to fly business, rather than economy. It took many more miles, and was well worth the time and effort it took us to earn them.

The reason you saw more award space on United’s website because it recognized you as a cardholder once you had logged in. Not because you created an online account.