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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.
I like to share these success stories to help inspire you the way you inspire me! From time to time I pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy. If you’re interested in sharing your own story, email it to email@example.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure!
Recently, I posted a success story from Dirk, who used travel rewards to help set up a memorable marriage proposal. Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Sean, who booked a week-long trip with his father to explore several US National Parks. Here’s what he had to say:
I just got back from an amazing week-long trip out west with my Dad to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Our trip spanned six days through Arizona, Utah and Nevada, and I was able to pay for almost the entire trip using tips from your blog.
To start, I booked our flights on American Airlines for 45,000 miles round-trip (after the 10% mileage rebate I got through my Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard. Thanks to the card, we were each able to get a free checked bag and 25% off in-flight purchases, which saved us over $60 additionally.
I usually fly out of Baltimore due to its proximity to my home, but we flew out of Dulles and into Reagan in order to maximize our time and award redemptions. This was made especially relaxing thanks to my Citi Prestige Card, which I was approved for just days before the recent changes to the sign-up bonus and lounge access benefit. On our outbound trip, we were able to use the British Airways lounge at Dulles through Priority Pass Select, as well as the Admirals Club in Charlotte during a four-hour layover. We also took advantage of the Admirals Club in Phoenix on our way back. This was the first time either of us had been to a lounge, and it was a great experience!
The Prestige card also helped with our rental car, since it offers National Emerald Club Executive status. We were able to bypass the counter and choose our own vehicle, so picking up the car was a breeze. The best part was that we got a full-size vehicle for the price of a mid-size, which saved us money yet again! I still have my Citi ThankYou Premier Card which I used for gas in order to earn 3 points per dollar.
We booked one night in Phoenix at a Marriott property using points accumulated through my dad’s Marriott Rewards card. From there, we stopped at the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell before arriving at our destination in St. George, Utah, where we stayed at the Comfort Inn Convention Center for three nights using Citi ThankYou points. Although it wasn’t too fancy, we were able to save more by booking a hotel with a continental breakfast. Every bit helps!
Thanks again for your tips. I was able to book a great father-son getaway to some beautiful National Parks for almost nothing, and I’m already working on a plan to earn points for a trip to Southeast Asia next year!
The most lucrative credit card perks naturally get the most attention (like the 4th Night Free from Citi Prestige). However, there are lots of less renowned benefits that can add up to a lot of value. Sean saved 5,000 miles thanks to the 10% rebate from his Citi AAdvantage card — that’s worth $75 based on my most recent valuations. He also scored an upgrade and expedited service on his rental car, both of which helped make the trip a little more comfortable and affordable. It’s worth looking over the cards in your portfolio to make sure you know how to maximize their benefits.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Sean for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on future travels (purchased from Office Depot with my Chase Ink Plus, of course), and I’d like to do the same for you.
Again, if the 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 by emailing us with your own success stories (see instructions above). You’ll have our utmost appreciation, along with some extra spending money for your next trip.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
While Citi announced some negative changes to this card back in July — including a lower sign-up bonus, the elimination of Admirals Club access and the end of the free rounds of golf benefit — one of its most valuable perks still remains, which is the 4th Night Free perk. This benefit alone can save you thousands of dollars a year if you use it to its full advantage.