This year’s trip to Europe is booked. And so far, I would say I’m getting a pretty good deal for my girlfriend and myself. The four tickets - two there and two back - cost me a total of $260. You read that right. $260. That’s what I’m paying in taxes for the four tickets.
The flights to Europe and back
We’re leaving on Delta via KLM from Boston to Amsterdam nonstop. That flight cost me 25,000 miles each ticket - 50,000 miles total. I transferred the 50k points from my Chase Ultimate Rewards to my Flying Blue account.
On the way back we’re taking a Lufthansa flight via United nonstop to New York. That cost me 30,000 miles per ticket. I transferred the points, again, from my UR account to my United account.
Leveraging the rest of my rewards
So how are we getting to Boston (on the front side of the trip) and from New York (on the backside)? That is the only part of the trip we haven’t booked yet - but I’ll tell you what we’re probably going to do: either use some of the remaining points I have in my UR account to fly Southwest, or if the tickets are cheap enough, I may just buy them.
What classifies as “cheap enough”? If the tickets are cheaper than a hotel stay they’re “cheap enough” for me, and that’s because the remaining points I have are either going to hotel stays in Europe or a few more flights.
I have an IHG card and a Hyatt card. Both get me one free night. I also have enough points in each of the respective accounts to purchase at least one more night.
Like I mentioned before, I also have about $350 in Arrival Plus points that I’ll be using.
And I have an additional $300 in travel credits from my Chase Sapphire Reserve.
It cost me 110,000 airline miles and $260 in taxes. But what does that translate to when it comes to savings? How much did I really save by using points instead of buying the tickets with cash?
Well, on the low side of the price range, the same flight to Amsterdam from Boston could have set me back $1,454 for both tickets. On the high end of the price range it could have cost me $5,900 for both tickets.
Doing the same exercise for the return flight it would have cost me anywhere between $2,026 and $6,538 for both tickets.
I have $650 in points/cash (AP and CSR) that I’ll use for other aspects of the trip. And when it comes to lodging I’m guessing I’ll be able to get 4-5 nights of using either a free night reward or hotel points.
To sum everything up, you could say I am easily saving between $5,000-$7,000 by using the points I’ve earned with my credit cards instead of cash. And that ain’t bad if you ask me!
The awards travel game that I play is always changing. Sometimes it changes for the worse. Sometimes it’s for the better. I’ll tell you what though, this process has taught me how to play the points game better.
I learned that if you have airline points and you want to use them for a European trip, find an airport that has direct flights to go in Europe - JFK, O’Hare, Boston Logan - and get there before moving onto Europe.
The points/miles that I earned by getting travel credit cards has certainly paid off. I just saved thousands. Sure, applying for, and using credit cards isn't for everyone. Nor should it be. If you're in credit card debt - don't try to do this. But if you think you can play the game, the potential to save thousands is there.
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