10 Reasons Why the Points and Miles Game is Worth the Time

Pam

I’ve been in the points and miles game for about 4 years now and I can’t figure out why so many of my friends/family don’t jump on board. Oh, I’ve heard the usual comments about how it must be so hard to do, how they don’t have time for it, or they couldn’t be organized to do it. But hey, I’m a grandma so I am older than many and I can do it! Truth be told anyone can! But is it worth your time to travel hack? Let’s check out what I’ve been able to do in the last few years thanks to this hobby and I’ll let you decide for yourself! Here are my 10 reasons (or places) why credit card points and miles is worth the relatively small amount of time we spend on it!

Thailand

My first real points and miles trip was in 2018 when I went to Thailand with a friend. This was a trip I had dreamed about for years and points and miles made it doable. I actually flew over there in the economy class since my friend had never traveled internationally and I wanted to stay with her. (What a friend!) However, I came back in business class on EVA air using ThankYou points. It cost me 125,000 points that I had earned with the Citi Premier credit card that my husband and I both had. I love to use his points!

Once there I used Marriott points for free nights in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and Hyatt points for free nights in Phuket. My friend, who wasn’t into points and miles at that point, loved not paying for hotels. We even got some free breakfasts included!

Massages in Thailand are super cheap- $7/hr so that totally took it over the top. I used points for my flights and all but one hotel. I’d say my time earning points and miles was worth it for this trip!!

woman petting an elephant in Thailand

My trip to Thailand was super cheap thanks to credit card points and miles!

China

My next trip was a tour I booked with my stepmother to China. We had paid for the tour but I knew I did not want to have to pay to fly both ways. I actually found a cheap economy plus ticket to fly over there and sit with my stepmother but I used 70,000 United miles to fly Hainan Airlines in business class back. This was a $5,000 ticket that I paid $5.60 for! Thank you again, credit card points and miles!

Women standing on the Great Wall

I flew back from China in business class for 50,000 Alaska miles

Greece

2018 was a good year for me and points and miles. I spent 10 days with two of my daughters in Greece. This was the trip that introduced Alex to lay flat business seats! We both used 70,000 United Miles to fly Turkish Airlines to Athens. One of the perks of that flight was getting a stopover at the Turkish Airlines Lounge which is amazing! I love a good airport lounge!  The Greek Islands have a few hotel that are part of the Small Luxury Hotels group that have partnered with Hyatt, but we opted to stay in Airbnbs.

Santorini, Greece windmills in Oia

Santorini, Greece and a view I never tired of!

Italy

From Greece, I flew to Italy and met my other two daughters for an additional 10 days. We used Marriott points to stay in Rome thanks to my daughter’s points (thanks, Kasey)!  Italy is one of my favorite countries in the world and I could return again and again. It cost 70,000 Delta SkyMiles for me to fly home in business class seats.

Two women standing in front of water

How cute are my daughters? Monterosso was a dream destination!

Vietnam

2019 began with a trip to Vietnam which may have been my best redemption thus far. I used points for all my hotel stays and flew business class seats there and back. I stayed at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay and absolutely loved the resort! I figured this was a $10,000 trip that I paid less than $1,000 for including food, massages, and tours. This trip in and of itself proves that learning how to leverage credit card points and miles is worth the time!

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Beautiful Ha Long bay was a highlight of this travel hacked Vietnam trip!

Dubai

My husband (yes, he does occasionally travel with me) and I went on a tour of the Middle East in 2019. We flew ahead of the group for an additional couple of days in Dubai to get over jet lag before the tour started. It was his first time using miles for business class seats and I hooked him on my hobby. We used 82,500 Alaska miles each to fly from LAX to Dubai on Emirates Airlines. We used 115,000 American miles to fly home.

We stayed in the Intercontinental Dubai using a free night certificate the first night and used another free night Marriott certificate to stay at the Westin in Dubai. We even got upgraded to a suite at the Westin!

Again, the time I spend on learning how to do this made it totally worth it for the free flights and hotels we enjoyed on this trip!

dubai beach

Enjoying the beach in Dubai thanks to travel hacking!

Istanbul

Also in 2019, I used 70,000 United miles to get to London where one of my daughters lives. From there, we traveled to Istanbul using 80,000 Aviance miles to get us there in economy class and back in business class. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton Istanbul using free night certificates I had when I signed up for our Ritz Carlton cards (no longer available). Istanbul was a fascinating experience. If you go, be sure and enjoy a hammam.

Scenic view of Istanbul

Points and miles made our trip to Istanbul super cheap!

Puerto Rico

My sister and I also enjoyed a week-long trip to Puerto Rico in 2019. We used American Airlines miles to fly there and back. They cost us 25,000 miles each. I used Marriott points for our stay. When I first started travel hacking there were way more ways to earn Marriott points so I have been lucky to stash away a ton of them for travels. Sister trips are the best and we really enjoyed Puerto Rico.

Woman sitting in front of fountain

Old Town San Juan Puerto Rico

Maui

One of my favorite redemptions was when Alex and I decided to go to Maui after looking at the snow at her place one January. We went less than 2 weeks later. This is a great example of why a nice stockpile is great to have so you can go on a whim! For this flight, I used 40,000 Alaska Miles to fly there and 65,000 Delta SkyMiles to fly home in first class. We used some Marriott hotel free night certificates that I had and stayed for free at hotels that retailed for $500+/night (the Ritz we stayed at was closer to $1,000 a night!). It was a great, much-needed escape from the snow trip that we paid pennies on the dollar for.

Ritz Carlton pool and grounds in Maui

Staying at the Ritz Carlton in Maui with my free night certificate makes travel hacking worth the time spent!

Costa Rica

My last pre-Covid trip was to Costa Rica. In fact, we were just starting to hear about COVID when I was returning. Who knew how our travel would be affected at that time? I used a total of 100,000 Delta SkyMiles for first-class tickets there. I had a week’s stay from Marriott that we used for lodging at the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel Hacienda Belen.  We then moved to another area in Costa Rica and split the hotel cost for a few days. Finally, I used a Marriott free night certificate for our last night.

Two women standing in front of waterfall

I snuck in a trip to Costa Rica just before COVID hit!

Bottom Line

Getting into the credit card points and miles game is worth whatever time you have to put into it to get started! The rewards are endless. These are just some of the ways I’ve used points/miles to travel since I have started this hobby. Let us teach you how you too can travel more, save more, and enjoy this wonderful hobby! Reach out to us to get started at pamiorg@travelhackingmom.com. We’d love to help you!

palm trees, beach and ocean

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