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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! This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
Stephen 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!
What’s your name and how long have you been involved in the miles & points hobby?
My name is Stephen Andert and I started with the miles and points hobby in 2014.
What was the goal of your trip?
The main goal of this trip was to take my wife on a vacation.
How long did you collect miles and points for your trip?
I didn’t collect any miles or points specifically for this trip, but fortunately, I had a lot of work-related travel in the past where I was earning miles and points. We ended up talking about taking a vacation, so we decided to use the points we had earned to help pay for the trip.
Which points did you save to take your trip?
We ended up using Delta miles for the flight, and then used Hilton points for the hotel in Mainz.
Which cards would you recommend to open for a trip like yours?
We had the Hilton Honors American Express Card which was helpful because we used the points earned on the card to book a Hilton hotel in Mainz. The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express was also useful for our trip since we booked a Delta flight. And because we had some extra time at the airport before our flight, we were able to enjoy Priority Pass airport lounge access thanks to The Platinum Card® from American Express.
How did you search and find the award flights?
I received an email from Delta offering a round trip Business Class flight to Europe for 90,000 Delta miles per person. Since I had earned enough Delta miles, I decided to book it for me and my wife.
How did you find your hotel accommodations?
I had stayed at a Hilton in Mainz on a past trip in Germany and found a great deal booking the room in advance. We also went to Paris for a few days and paid for this flight with cash, since it would have been too expensive with Delta miles. For our time in Paris, we looked at Airbnb to get a location close to the places we wanted to see.
What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?
The most challenging part of our trip was when we wanted to book a round-trip flight between Frankfurt and Paris. We wanted to book with our miles and points, but we could not find a reasonably priced award flight. Even a direct flight on Air France was priced too high!
In the end, we were able to book 2 separate one-way tickets for a much more reasonable price. We had considered taking a train, but the total out-of-pocket cost would have been higher. Plus, we were a bit limited on time and did not want to take a train unless it was absolutely necessary.
Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination. Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc..
If you visit Paris, you should definitely visit the Eiffel Tower in the morning! I did this and was able to take a great photo from a bridge for a really cool shot.
And if you are ever in Mainz, you can also check out the Gutenberg Museum.
What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
I learned I like a combination of both scheduled activities and free time, so depending on my mood, I can relax if I feel like it without feeling like I have to stick to a schedule.
What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip? Or to those who haven’t taken a miles & points trip yet!
Sign up for the rewards program for every airline you fly, even if you don’t fly very frequently. Track your miles and do anything to keep your hard-earned miles from expiring. And if you use credit cards to earn miles and points, make sure to always pay them in full and do not carry a balance!
Want to Share Your Story?
If you’d like to be considered for our reader success story series, please send us a note! We would love to hear about how you travel with miles and points! And if you want to get more stories like this one delivered straight to your inbox, please sign up for our email list!