Seeing Hamilton in Chicago for Cheap: Part 1 – Introduction and Planning
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Million Mile Secrets team member Jasmin visited Chicago with her 3 kids to see Hamilton – An American Musical. And she did NOT wait months for tickets or pay a small fortune!
She’ll tell you how she traveled with her family to Chicago using miles, points, and credit card perks for an unforgettable weekend of Big Travel with Small Money!Jasmin: Thanks, D! My children are huge Hamilton fans! The soundtrack is in heavy rotation in our house, the kids know all the lyrics, and Lin-Manuel Miranda is their hero.
But with a bit of luck and the right credit cards, I was able to surprise the kids with tickets to Hamilton and a trip to Chicago as a Christmas gift – without breaking the bank. I’ll explain how!
Seeing Hamilton in Chicago for Cheap Index
- Part 1 – Introduction and Planning
- Part 2 – Flights and Hotel
- Part 3 – Hamilton – An American Musical
- Part 4 – Museum of Science & Industry and Other Activities in Chicago
AMEX Platinum Cardholders Can Access Exclusive Hamilton Tickets
Sometimes catching the best deals are a matter of luck, and you find yourself planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip at the spur of the moment!
By chance, just before Christmas, I noticed The Points Guy posted that the AMEX Platinum Concierge released a block of Hamilton seats for American Express Platinum cardholders. And they were selling at face value, for as little as $65 per ticket!
I have The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, so quickly called the number on the back of my card. And after waiting on hold for over an hour (I guess lots of folks had the same idea!), the concierge let me know there were still inexpensive seats left for shows in January and February.
I was able to get 4 balcony right center seats for the January 21, 2017, performance. And the total cost (including taxes and fees) was $260!
To book a performance through the AMEX Platinum Concierge, call 800-525-3355, and use your AMEX Platinum card to pay for your ticket. And there’s a limit of 4 tickets per cardholder.
The concierge said it could be a few weeks before the tickets were sent. But they arrived by mail ~3 days after I bought them, in time for Christmas!
After the initial squeals of glee and excitement settled down, the kids’ next questions were “Wait? How are we getting there? Can we fly Emirates First Class?” (Um, no.) And, “Can we stay at a Hyatt?” (Yes!)
Picky customers, these kids!
Getting to Chicago
Chicago is a short (~1 to ~1.5 hour) flight from where we live in Western New York, and we can fly out of Buffalo or Rochester.
Because it’s a short-haul route, we had several options to book non-stop, cheap award seats in coach:
- American Airlines – 15,000 American Airlines miles round-trip for flights up to 500 miles
- British Airways – 15,000 British Airways Avios points round-trip on American Airlines for flights up to 1,150 miles
- Southwest – Depends on the cash price of the ticket, but for our dates the cheapest round-trip, non-stop flights cost 14,834 Southwest points
- United Airlines – 20,000 United Airlines miles round-trip for flights up to 700 miles
I prefer to save my American Airlines, British Airways, and United Airlines miles for international trips. And Southwest cost the fewest number of points.
Plus, the kids enjoy the fun and sometimes goofy flight attendants on Southwest. And you don’t have to pay to check a bag!
So I booked our Southwest flights right away. In total, I spent 59,336 Southwest points and ~$45 in taxes and fees for 4 round-trip, non-stop tickets between Buffalo and Chicago (Midway) on Southwest.
Staying in Chicago
Link: Hyatt Regency Chicago
Link: The Hyatt Credit CardLike Daraius and Emily, my children and I love Hyatt hotels. They’ve always exceeded our expectations, especially with employees who go above and beyond for the kids!
I had a free anniversary night in a category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel from the Chase Hyatt card I wanted to use. But, as a Diamond Elite member, I also had a Diamond Suite Upgrade which would expire soon. So I set about finding a Hyatt in Chicago which fit the bill for a 2-night stay.
The Hyatt Regency Chicago normally costs 15,000 Hyatt points per night. But I wanted to use a Diamond Suite Upgrade, and reservations made with all points are NOT eligible for suite upgrades. So I paid $149 + tax for one night, used my free anniversary night for the 2nd night, and asked very nicely if I could get apply the Diamond Suite upgrade to the anniversary night, too.
The Hyatt folks said there was no guarantee, but we got lucky and were upgraded to a junior suite both nights!Note: The excellent Chase Hyatt card is one of the handful of Chase travel cards you CAN still get even if you’ve opened 5+ cards in the past 24 months.
Activities in Chicago
We crammed a lot of other activities into the 2-day trip, which included:
- Participating in the Women’s March on Chicago (with 250,000 other attendees!)
- A delicious Mexican lunch at Rick Bayless’ Xoco
- Ice skating at Millennium Park
- A stroll along Chicago’s Riverwalk
- Visiting the Museum of Science and Industry
- …and a lovely dinner with my great-auntie and cousins in Plainfield
It was a whirlwind weekend, but one that won’t soon be forgotten!
Million Mile Secrets team member Jasmin traveled to Chicago with her kids for a weekend getaway to see Hamilton – An American Musical. And she did it using miles, points, and credit card perks!
Stay tuned for the next installment, where she’ll review their Southwest flights and stay at the Hyatt Regency Chicago in a junior suite!
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