Craig’s 2013 Travel Sneak Peak | Where I’m Going and How Many Miles and Dollars it’s Costing

I was emailing a friend who said he’d love to hear about my 2013 travel plans and he wanted specifically to know where all the points were coming from.  As such, the point of this post is to inspire you so you’ll see al the different types of things you can do with miles and points.  Also, I plan to do some trip reports on some of these trips, so this is also a preview of what you’ll be reading in 2013.

Jan/Feb: Craig to Australia (and Papua New Guinea)

For three weeks in Jan/Feb 2013, I’ll be heading back to Papua New Guinea.  In some ways, it is unfair to include this trip in my list because it’s a trip that is reimbursed.  The expenses are not coming out of my pocket.

However, I mention it here because for the cost of an economy class tickets I was able to get business class tickets.

How?  I used the US Airways 100% purchase miles promotion to buy 100,000 miles.  Then I contributed 10,000 of my own US Airways miles to get the 110,00 miles I needed to fly to Australia in business class.

Either way, the out of pocket cost was going to be the same.  The only difference is that because of my miles and points work, I’ll be flying more comfortably.  The cost of my business class tickets (buying the miles) from Denver to Brisbane was $1,800 plus $185 in taxes and fees.

I intentionally went out of the way so I could preview different business class products.  I’ll be flying business class on the following airlines United, ANA, Thai (including a segment on the A380), and Air New Zealand.

January: Wife and three kids to Houston

While I’m gone to PNG, my wife and kids will be flying down to Houston.

Last year, the Citi ThankYou Premier card had a 50,000 ThankYou point sign up bonus.  The best way to use these points is on airfare where you can get a 33% bonus.  My wife’s Premier card was actually at the one year mark, so she was going to be on the hook for the $125 annual fee to keep the points.  Instead of paying the annual fee, we decided to burn the points and cancel the card.

The rest of the ThankYou points came from an old Citi card that used to give double actual flown miles when you booked flights with a Citi card.

She had 66,427 ThankYou points.  We were able to find four roundtrip flights from Denver to Houston for 66,427 + $8.21.

$8.21 out of pocket is nothing to complain about for a family of four to travel within the States.

March: Family to Phoenix, Arizona

At this point, this is probably the best mileage flight I’ve booked all year.

Our family of five will be flying roundtrip from Denver to Phoenix for … 12,004 Southwest points (that’s total – not per ticket).  We have family in Pheonix that we’ve been wanting to visit.  When we saw fares at 3,001 points each, we decided that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  You know you have a great fare when driving to the airport, paying for gas and parking will probably cost more than flying to Phoenix.

Where did I get the points?  

Last year, I got both the Southwest personal and business card, so I ended up with 100,000 points from both those cards.  My wife is also on my Companion Pass so she can travel along for $5 in taxes and fees.

April: Craig, Mom, and Dad to Japan

In April, I’ll be going to Japan with my parents.

We’ll be visiting some friends who are missionaries.

My parents will be flying from Toronto to Tokyo with a stop in Los Angeles on the way back.  I’ll be flying from Denver to Tokyo.  The per person economy class mileage is 50,000 miles round trip.  The taxes and fees out of Toronto were $257 for two people.  Out of Denver the taxes and fees cost me $56.60 in taxes and fees.

One of the things I like about American Airlines is that they have off-peak economy class rates.  Regular rates between North America and Japan would require 65,000 miles per person to get to Japan.

Where did I get 150,000 AA points?

Three credit card sign up bonuses.  AA Visa and AA AMEX on the same day using two different browsers.  I waited about 65 days and then got the AA Business card.

Three credit card applications plus about $300, and three of us are flying to Japan.

April: Craig (and Family?) to Washington, DC for the Frequent Flyer University

I must have searched for fares on at just the right time.  I was able to get roundtrip tickets for 13,200 Southwest points.  The next day, I was going to get tickets for my kids (my wife already flies free since she is the designated person on my Companion Pass), but the price was almost double what I paid.

However, I checked a few weeks later and the prices were back down.  I was able to exchange my tickets at no cost from the 13,2000 points to 12,000 points (see how to rebook an unlimited number of Southwest flights for cheaper fares).  Then, later the same day, the tickets dropped to 8,279 points.

Family of five from Denver to Washington, DC = 33,116 Southwest points (with one person free on a Companion Pass).

But, we might not all go!  That’s the beauty of Southwest points.  We can cancel the flight without any fees or surcharges.  I can just go online and get the points deposited back in the account if we choose to cancel the flight.

The total out of pocket cost was the $5.00 per person for taxes.

Where did I get the points?  

Last year, I got both the Southwest personal and business card so I ended up with 100,000 points from both of those cards.  My wife is also on my Companion Pass, so she can travel along for $5 if she decides to come.

June: Craig and Jeri to Bali.  Kids to Canada.

Last year, we started a tradition that we really enjoyed: dropping the kids off with grandparents so my wife and I can get away.

We’ll be flying business class from Denver to Denpasar, Bali (on Cathay Pacific).  We’ll fly through Toronto so we can drop off the kids.

One the way home, we’ll fly first class via Chicago.  We’ll take our free stop over in Chicago and go and get the kids.

This is going to cost 122,500 AAdvantage miles each.  Actually, it is more like 112,500 because we got the 10% rebate for having the AA Citi Visa.  It’s also going to cost 9,000 British Airways Avois to fly from Chicago to Toronto so we can pick up the kids and spend some time with my family.

Total AA miles = 225,000.  Total Avios = 9,000.

For the three kids, they’ll be flying DEN – ORD – YYZ and ORD – DEN.  The total miles for their flight is 58,500 Avois.

Where did we get the miles?

This would be a combination of the remaining miles from when my wife and I each did the 2 Citi personal cards and we each did a Citi biz card.  That was a total haul of 300,000 miles.  We also have a Bank Direct account and earn some AA miles from that.

The British Airways Avios comes from my wife’s 50,000 application for the BA Chase card earlier this year.

So far, that’s all of the travel we’ve planned for 2013.

Are you convinced yet?

This is not a scam, but applying for credit cards for the bonuses can be a very lucrative way to see the world for next to nothing.  Perhaps it’s time you told a friend about this website.  You could use this post as proof in action.

What trips do you have planned for 2013?



  1. says

    In February, I’ll be taking a trip to Nashville. I’ll get reimbursed for this, so I just need to figure out how to maximize the ‘return’ on booking the trip in cash. My local airport does not have any of the airlines I typically fly, so I’m not sure how to maximize the miles – any suggestions??? (they have United and US Airways, I typically fly Southwest/Airtran and American/British Airways)

    The other major travel I have planned is a Mother/Daughter trip to Europe next summer. We’ll fly JFK to Germany direct on Air Berlin (80,000 Avios and $206 in fees/taxes for two RT tickets; got 50k from the BA credit card and transferred 30k from Chase Sapphire UR). We’ll hit up Amsterdam, Paris, Venice, and Poland while we’re there. Most of our hotels will be covered by the Priority Club 80k point card. I can’t wait!!

    On that note, I need to figure out which cards to sign up for next to restock my points! I have the Airtran flights waiting to post to my card (32 credits), and the second 50k Avios will post sometime next summer (when I signed up, it was 50k after first purchase, with another 50k after first year). But no new cards in the pipeline yet.

    • says

      Do you already have points for your trip in February? Unfortunately, if not it’s probably too late to apply, get approved, reach a minimum spend, and have your miles post in time for a February trip.

      Your trip to Europe sounds like a lot of fun. I’m glad you were able to avoid the fuel surcharges usually associated with travel to Europe with Avios.

      As for your next cards it sounds like you might want to branch out beyond Chase cards. Depending on your goals here’s what I think are currently the best cards by issuing company:
      Chase – Chase Sapphire Preferred 40,000
      American Express – Premier Rewards (25,000) or Platinum (25,000-50,000 if targeted) depending on your travel needs. Starwood is good too.
      Barclays – US Airways Dividend Miles 40,000
      US Bank – Club Carlson for hotels

      If you want lins or more explanation on any of the cards just let me know. You should be able to access most of them on this page –
      Citi – American Airlines two cards for up to 100,000 and the Hilton Reserve for hotels

      • says

        Thanks for the reply. Actually, I don’t need points for the trip in February – I’m booking it in cash and getting reimbursed by my organization. I was just looking to capture the points/miles somewhere. I actually was able to find one flight that day on American Airlines from my local airport, so I decided to apply for the two Citi AA cards (got approved for both of them) and make the miles useful. I remember you posting about how you managed to get “free” flights to Hawaii, so I’m going to try to make that work!

        Do you know if AAdvantage points have an expiration? I don’t plan to use those points until this time next year or even some time in 2014 (when I can reaccumulate my vacation time at work), but I don’t want to worry about them expiring. I’m hoping the worst I have to worry about is devaluation…

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