Reader Success! $29,000+ Vacation to Greece on a First-Time Miles & Points Redemption!

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Reader Success! $29,000+ Vacation to Greece on a First-Time Miles & Points Redemption!

Million Mile SecretsReader Success! $29,000+ Vacation to Greece on a First-Time Miles & Points Redemption!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!  This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Angel 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!

Angel M. Success Story
Here We Are In Front of the Acropolis in Athens! We Used Miles & Points to Travel to Greece!

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

Hi, my name is Angel and I got started in the miles and points hobby earlier this year in January!  I was listening to a podcast, heard something about how valuable miles and points could be, and the rest is history!

2. What was the goal of your trip?

I had MANY goals I wanted to accomplish with this trip! I wanted to book round-trip Business Class seats to Greece for our family of 4.  I also wanted to save cash and use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book 2 separate rooms so that my husband and kids could have some more personal space.

The final goal I had was to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for anything else we could, like any other hotels, flights, and any activities that we might stumble upon.

Angel M. Success Story
View While Walking Through Beautiful Oia, Santorini

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

I just started the miles and points hobby this year, so it took 7 to 8 months to earn enough points for this trip!  And we have been really busy with the credit card applications.  We’ve opened these new cards since January:

If you aren’t familiar with how your credit score works, open multiple credit cards can seem scary.  But if you have a smart application strategy and use cards wisely (don’t carry any balances), you can still maintain an excellent credit score!

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

Because this was my very first redemption, I pretty much used all of my points.  This included Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Marriott points.

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

Although we opened a lot of cards in the months leading up to this trip, you don’t need all of them if you’re looking to make a trip similar to ours.  I’d say you would do just fine with the following 4 cards:

Angel M. Success Story
Sunset in Oia, Santorini!

6. How did you search and find the award flights?

In June, we found out from a Facebook group that there was good availability on Air France Business Class award flights to Athens.

From there, I looked up which cities Air France flies to.  I narrowed down the dates to accommodate our kid’s school schedule, and began a search for cities close to our home airport, with the intent of booking 4 Business Class award seats.

The last step was basically finding the most affordable award seats based on the airports we wanted to fly to, also taking into consideration the connecting flights we’d have to make.  Here we found some big differences.  We found that if we didn’t do our due diligence, we could have possibly paid 312,000 points per ticket, instead of 53,000 points per ticket!

At the end of the day, 4 round-trip Business Class tickets cost us 456,000 Flying Blue miles.  And Flying Blue, Air France’s frequent flyer program, is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner!

I have a spreadsheet listing some of the costs for our trip, and we got $29,000 worth of travel thanks to miles and points!

We Got Over $29,000 Worth of Travel to Greece Using Mostly Miles and Points!

7. How did you find your hotel accommodations?

We just searched for hotels through the Chase travel portal.

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

Booking the trip wasn’t challenging because I was able to do everything online.  But figuring out the logistics of how to get to the next airport or hotel was time consuming.  I spent hours researching, making the reservations, and then double-checking and confirming the reservations.

This being my first redemption, I also felt it was a bit challenging trying to get the most value out of our points.

Angel M. Success Story
My Husband Getting Settled In On Air France Business Class

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

If you’re looking to save money, you can always use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for any tours you might go on.  Because you can redeem points through the Chase travel portal for excursions in popular vacation destinations!

We really enjoyed the sunset in Oia, Santorini.  Little Venice in Mykonos was also great for sightseeing and having lunch by the water.  And if you want to see the Acropolis in Athens, make sure to purchase your tickets in advance because the lines can be very long!

Angel M. Success Story
Little Venice in Mykonos!

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

I feel like the biggest thing I learned was to not sweat the small stuff and just enjoy traveling!  I’ve found there are so many positive things that come from traveling and experiencing a new place, that they completely overshadow any downsides of traveling!

Angel M. Success Story
Enjoying Souviaki in Santorini

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

I’d recommend reading the Million Mile Secrets Beginner’s Guide and joining various Facebook travel groups.  There’s so much information out there and they can all help you figure out great ways to earn points based on your spending habits.  For instance, my husband and I tend to have large business expenses, so by using the right credit cards, we were really able to maximize our earnings potential!

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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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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Fly the a380 or 777? Read 777 has better biz class, but was alway more points when I looked.

Did you do the credit cards for you and your spouse? Because it would only yield 195k points doing it just for one person, plus points for the spends.

Yes, we both opened accounts. I just realized I left off the Amex Plat!! We both received the 100K bonus, but only used about 80K of the points for this trip.

For Chase alone excluding spend:

I am seeing that as 215k for one person. A single individual can also have multiple business cards of the same type by using SSN and EIN.

I was able to convince my husband to join me for 2 player mode and we each have a business with EINs.

I thought CFU is only 15k.

It was an increased 30k/$300 earlier this year for both CFU and Freedom. Now back to 15k.

wow fantastic redemption! proof that it definitely is possible.

You did great for a newbie! I’m jealous!

Thank you! I read, reread and listened to YouTube videos in the car and while cleaning. I took notes and set out a plan for applications. I have a binder and charts to keep myself organized.