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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how award travel has affected their lives: the exotic vacations they’ve planned, the trips they’ve made to be with family and friends, the premium seats and suites they’ve experienced, and so much more, all made possible by points and miles. I love to travel and explore, and it’s an honor to be able to help so many of you get where you want to go.
Moving forward, I want to share these success stories with all of you more often, to help inspire you the way you inspire me! So every other week or so I’ll select a story that catches my eye and post it here for everyone to enjoy. Two weeks ago I posted a story from TPG reader Luke, who figured out how he and his wife could travel together by diversifying his travel rewards.
Today I want to share a story from TPG Reader Susan, who was able to take a chance that paid off big thanks to the points and miles she earned from credit card sign-up bonuses. Here’s what Susan had to say:
As a Gen X-er, I witnessed the birth of the Internet, and I didn’t carry a cell phone in grade school. So understandably, I was a bit skeptical of online dating. Still I gave it a shot, and after striking out in my area, I decided to search in my favorite vacation spot (Hawaii), and I found someone!
I’m not sure how Match.com formulas are made, but we were given a 384% compatibility rating. That’s right, we were a quadruple certainty! Clearly, the match deserved closer examination. After chatting online and on the phone, I decided to take a chance and go meet my match halfway (in San Francisco). His sister and her family live there, and the Bay Area had been on my list of places to visit for 20 years, so if things didn’t work out, we could each salvage a fun trip on our own.
I wasn’t getting my hopes up, and I didn’t want to invest too much financially. I work in the nonprofit sector and don’t make a lot, so I try to travel frugally. I started to research online and found The Points Guy; I was particularly charmed by your nerdy Sunday videos.
Taking your advice, I signed up for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard and used 25,000 of my 50,000 American Airlines miles from the sign-up bonus to fly round-trip from Chicago. The total cost was $11.20. I then signed up for the Hyatt Credit Card and stayed for two completely free nights in San Francisco after meeting the easy minimum spending requirement.
So how did it go? Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” was humming in my head after we spent a couple days together and planned our next travel date. We saw the Golden Gate Bridge, ate at fantastic Nick’s Tacos, indulged in delicious pizzas and pastas in Little Italy, visited several museums, and most importantly, met amour.
Thanks to the idiosyncrasies of Internet dating, a sense of adventure, and of course, thanks to your blog, we found love for the low, low price of $11.20. We’re getting married this July! A big mahalo to you, and keep up the good work!
Susan’s story cuts to the core of what I love about award travel: it creates possibilities. We all have limited resources, and we have to make (sometimes tough) decisions about how to use them — where to go, what to do, who to pass the time with, and of course how to pay for it. When you can answer that last question with points and miles, you can pay more attention to the other (more important) questions.
Susan took advantage of some of the top credit card sign-up bonuses, and gave herself the latitude to take a personal risk without taking a financial risk. And best of all, it wasn’t even that difficult. With just two cards she earned the rewards she needed (with enough AAdvantage miles left over for another domestic round-trip). While San Francisco might not be on the list of places to maximize the Hyatt free night certificates, Susan got the trip she wanted, and that’s what matters most.
I love this story, and I want to hear more like it! To thank Susan for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 Visa gift card, and I’d like to do the same for you.
If the tips and strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination, or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me (and the whole TPG team) with your own award travel success stories by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and putting “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, you’ll have our utmost appreciation, and a gift card to jump-start your next adventure (purchased from Office Depot with my Chase Ink Plus, of course).
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!