If your family is like mine, you are spread out all over the country. I live in Dallas, but my mom is in St. Louis and my Dad is in Hawaii. That makes it hard to spend holidays with my family, especially when I need to buy plane tickets for me and my girlfriend.
I’m trying to save up 20% for a down payment on a house and there’s really no way I could afford to see all of my family over the holidays without a little help from my rewards.
This year my girlfriend and I are going to St. Louis for Christmas, Reno for New Year’s (my dad will fly into Reno from Hawaii), and then come back home to Dallas. It’s going to be an incredible trip, and here’s how my rewards points made it possible!
Using Rewards for My Christmas and New Year’s Vacation
Here is the plan for our holiday travel:
December 24th: Dallas, TX to St. Louis, MO
December 30th: St. Louis, MO to Reno, NV
January 4th: Reno, NV to Dallas, TX
Without rewards it would cost me $1,375 for all these plane tickets. Yikes!
Let’s see how I can make this trip a little more affordable using rewards programs and credit cards.
Avios Rewards Flight from Dallas to St. Louis on December 24th
Whenever I want to fly somewhere within the US, the first thing I do is try to find a flight with my British Airways Avios points. It is possible to get free flights on American Airlines with Avios at great redemption rates.
The problem with Avios is the large number of blackout dates. However, Christmas Eve is a light travel day and had plenty of flights available.
Two tickets from Dallas to St. Louis would have cost $323.60 if we had purchased them through American Airlines.
Instead of paying full price, I used 9,000 Avios and paid $5.00 to cover fees. That saved me $318.60 and was a great start to paying for my vacation with rewards!
Companion Ticket from St. Louis to Reno on December 30th
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to use my British Airways Avios points for my flight from St. Louis to Reno due to blackout dates. Whenever that happens I have to get creative and find a way to use other rewards to save money.
I decided to use my Companion Ticket that is available through my Citi ThankYou Premier card, which is advertised as two plane tickets for the price of one, but ends up being more like 73% off the second ticket.
As you can see the flight we chose costs $291 per ticket, or $582 for both of us if we purchased directly from the American Airlines website.
I was able to purchase two tickets for the exact same flight using the Companion Ticket benefit of my ThankYou Premier card and got them both for $368.50. That saved me $213.50 (which more than pays for the $125 annual fee on the ThankYou Premier card). I also want to mention that this benefit works on round trip fares as well, but I used it for a one-way trip because I didn’t need a round trip flight.
ThankYou Points Rewards Flight from Reno to Dallas on January 4th
Finally I need to get my girlfriend and myself back home. I tried to use British Airways Avios points again, but unfortunately they didn’t have a reward flight available. I had also used my companion ticket through the Citi ThankYou Premier. My only options left are to use ThankYou Points or to use Spirit Incentives discounted flights.
If I were to pay full price for a ticket from US Airways, it would have cost $212.00 per ticket:
One of the great benefits of the Citi ThankYou Premier card is that you get 33% more ThankYou Points when you redeem them for air travel. This not only applies to ThankYou points earned with my ThankYou Premier card, but also other cards that earn ThankYou points like my Citi Forward card. Because of this benefit, it only took 16,028 points to buy the flight. The points covered 100% of the cost of the flight, saving me $212.00.
Spirit Incentives Discounted Flight from Reno to Dallas on January 4th
With five flights down, I just have one flight left to purchase. Unfortunately I’m out of ThankYou Points and I can’t use Avios. However, I’m still not willing to pay full price. Luckily my Citi ThankYou Premier offers 15% off any airfare when you book through them.
You might remember the full price cost of the Reno to Dallas flight was $212.00.
When booking through Spirit Incentives I saved $26.91.
This Vacation Doesn’t Happen Without Rewards
Like I said above, I have to save as much money as possible if I’m going to be able to buy a house in the next two years. That means I have to be smart about going on vacation and using rewards for pay for as much as possible.
Last year my girlfriend wasn’t able to go to St. Louis because I couldn’t afford the ticket, and my Dad paid for her ticket to Reno. This year my girlfriend and I will both make the whole trip and I don’t have to ask my family to buy a ticket. Better yet, the $771 I saved makes me that much closer to buying my first house.