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If you’re new to the miles-and-points hobby, here are 10 deals offering fantastic ways to travel to amazing places and save a bunch of cash. Some of these offers are available for a short time and others are award-chart sweet spots or credit card perks.
Best travel deals 2019
Before signing up for any credit card deals, it’s important to consider your travel goals so you can pick the strategy to make your trip happen. Whether you’re new to miles and points or a seasoned veteran, prefer coach or business class, there are so many ways to get you where you want to go.
1. Friend or loved one flies with you for (almost) free with the Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass has always been one of the best travel deals out there.
With the Southwest Companion Pass, a friend or family member can travel with you almost for free on paid and award tickets for up to two years. You’ll only have to pay taxes and fees for your companion’s flight (usually less than $12 for a domestic round-trip flight).
To get the Companion Pass, you must earn 125,000 qualifying Southwest points (or complete 100 one-way flights) in a calendar year — and the points earned from credit card sign-up bonuses count toward that requirement.
Right now, you can earn 70,000 Southwest points when you open the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card and spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. And you can earn the additional points needed by flying Southwest, spending on your Southwest credit card or opening a Southwest personal credit card as well. Right now the Southwest personal credit cards have increased welcome offers of up to 60,000 points. You’ll earn 40,000 Southwest points after spending $1,000 in the first three months of account opening and an additional 20,000 Southwest points after spending $12,000 (in total) in the first year of account opening.
Keep in mind, the Southwest cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, so if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for any of the Chase Southwest cards.
For everything you want/need to know about this deal, read our Southwest Companion Pass FAQ page.
2. Take an extra flight with United Airlines Excursionist Perk
The United Airlines Excursionist Perk is a great way to travel more without using up more miles. The Excursionist Perk allows you to book a free one-way flight when you are booking a round-trip or multi-city trip with miles (not cash) on United.
For example, if you’re visiting Europe, you could fly from:
- Chicago to Paris
- Paris to Rome
- Rome to Chicago
You would only be charged for the flights from Chicago to Paris and Rome to Chicago. The flight from Paris to Rome is your Excursionist Perk and won’t cost you any additional miles.
This is a great way to stretch your miles further on your next trip.
3. Amex Hilton Aspire for top-tier status, airline credit and more
The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is one of the best credit cards out there for anyone who stays at Hilton hotels. It’s so good that it might even be a reason to start staying at Hilton hotels if you don’t already.
Right now, you can get a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points when you open the card and spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months.
Cardholders will also automatically be upgraded to top-tier Diamond Hilton status, which includes complimentary breakfast and a 100% bonus on base points earned when staying at Hilton hotels.
In addition, cardholders will receive a complimentary weekend-night certificate each year, Priority Pass Select airline lounge membership, $250 annual airline-fee credit, and a $250 Hilton Resort credit. To find out more about these benefits, read our full Hilton Aspire review.
For me, the Hilton Aspire benefits make it one of the biggest no-brainers out there.
4. Business class to Madrid for the price of coach with Iberia
Redeeming Iberia Avios points is one of my favorite ways to get to Europe because the prices in business class are less than what some airlines charge for coach. You can use your Iberia miles for business class and get some great value. My favorite option is to redeem 34,000 Iberia Avios to fly from Chicago to Madrid in business class one-way. Flights from Boston and New York cost the same. Most airlines, including United, Delta, and American, usually charge 30,000 miles just for coach.
Even if you have to drive a bit farther or book an extra flight to fly from Chicago, New York or Boston, it still can be a great deal.
You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Iberia at a 1:1 ratio or from Marriott at a 3:1 ratio. If you already have British Airways Avios or Aer Lingus Avios, you can also transfer those to Iberia at a 1:1 ratio too.
5. $300 travel credit with the Chase Sapphire Reserve
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (one of my favorite types) after spending $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
Along with a great sign-up bonus, the card comes with a $300 annual credit for travel purchases every year you’re a cardmember.
You’ll earn the credit when you use the card for purchases like:
- Hotels and motels (including Airbnb)
- Car rental agencies
- Cruise lines
- Travel agencies
- Discount travel sites
- Passenger trains
- Taxis (including Uber and Lyft)
- Toll bridges and highways
- Parking lots and garages
You do not have to spend $300 in one transaction to use the travel credit. You will be reimbursed for the first $300 in travel purchases.
6. Avoid blackout dates and get points back for flights with the Amex Business Platinum
You’ll get 35% of your points back for any business- or first-class ticket you purchase using Pay With Points. And you’ll get a 35% rebate for coach tickets booked with Pay With Points on your selected airline (see rates & fees).
Using Pay With Points allows you to book flights without blackout dates. Plus, you’ll earn airline miles on your Pay with Points flight because it’s essentially the same as paying with cash. And remember, Amex small-business cards don’t appear on your personal credit report, so they won’t count against Chase’s 5/24 rule if you apply for Chase cards in the future.
7. Get $300 toward your next Marriott stay
When the Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest programs were combined into Marriott Bonvoy, a whole new set of credit card offers were released. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is the most luxurious of them all.
This card is only worth it for people who stay at Marriott hotels, but with so many locations around the world that shouldn’t be an issue. If you have a paid stay, you’ll get a $300 statement credit when you spend $300 or more at a Marriott property. And you’ll also get a free-night certificate valid at hotels costing up to 50,000 points per night each year. Cardholders are also upgraded to mid-tier Gold Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
Currently, this card offers 75,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months. To read more about what we think about this card, check out our full Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex review.
8. Fly to Hawaii for less with Turkish Airlines miles
This year Nick from Frequent Miler uncovered an absolutely killer deal for flights to Hawaii using Turkish Airlines miles. Turkish Airlines includes Hawaii in the same zone as the mainland U.S. so you can book one-way coach award flights for 7,500 miles one-way or one-way business-class awards for 12,500 miles.
Turkish Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance so you can book these awards to Hawaii on United Airlines. You can transfer Citi ThankYou points to Turkish Airlines at a 1:1 ratio and Marriott points transfer to Turkish Airlines at a 3:1 ratio. So it’s not hard to get the Turkish Airlines miles you need.
To book these awards you’ll need to call Turkish Airlines at 1-800-874-8875.
9. Get to Asia in style with Alaska Airlines miles
If you’re planning to fly to Asia, you can use Alaska Airlines miles to book flights at super-reasonable prices in all classes of service. The prices you pay will vary depending on the partner. Two of the best are Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.
You’ll pay the following one-way prices for Cathay Pacific partner awards:
- 30,000 miles in coach
- 35,000 miles in premium economy
- 50,000 miles in business class
- 70,000 miles in first class
And with Japan Airlines you’ll pay:
- 35,000 miles in economy
- 60,000 miles in business class
- 70,000 miles in first class
No matter what class of service you book, you can’t go wrong with those partners. You can also use Alaska Airlines miles to book flights on Korean Air, American Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Emirates and Finnair.
10. SAS promotion: Fly up to eight children to Europe for next to nothing
One of the absolute greatest deals in travel is the yearly SAS promotion that allows you to fly your kids to Europe for free. Often popping up near the end of the year (this year it ran during September), you can bring up to eight kids ages 11 and under to Scandinavia for just the cost of taxes and fees ($60-$70 per ticket) when you purchase at least one adult ticket. That’s a potential savings of thousands of dollars.
You’ll have to depart from one of the cities SAS serves:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Washington, D.C.
And your destination must be one of the following cities:
Even if these destinations don’t appeal to you, it’s a good way for a large family to cross the Atlantic for cheap. Then it’s relatively inexpensive to hop to other European countries on budget airlines.
There are lots of excellent travel deals for folks in 2019.
Some of the best are: