Travel Tuesday Top 10: Gifts for the Traveling Mom and Ways to Maximize Points for Mother's Day
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It’s that time of when you get to celebrate that special the mother or mother figure in your life! So as Mother’s Day approaches, here’s a list of great ways you can make the most of your points and miles while doing something special for dear mom. This year I'll be taking my mom on her first trip to South America- to Santiago, Chile and Easter Island by taking advantage of American's discounted business class fares and using British Airways Avios for Santiago to Easter Island. While this may be a little over the top, she's been a huge supporter of mine over the years and I was a 10 pound baby, so I think she deserves it!
1. Companion Ticket: Show your mom she’s special by using a companion ticket on her and taking her for a getaway. Whether you’ve earned a Southwest Companion Pass, spent your way to a British Airways “Travel Together” companion ticket, or just haven’t figured out how to use the companion ticket you get with various credit cards including the Delta Reserve and Platinum Amexes, the Alaska Airlines Visa and the US Airways Mastercard. You might be saving money, but the gift of quality time together is priceless.
2. Shopping Portal Bonuses: Earn some extra points or miles by ordering gifts for mom through shopping portals like the Ultimate Rewards Mall, SkyMiles Shopping portal, AAdvantage eShopping portal, and the MileagePlus Shopping portal. Through AAdvantage eShopping you can order flowers from FTD.com and earn 30 AA miles per dollar or receive up to 30% off and 16 AA miles per dollar from 1800Flowers. If you prefer Ultimate Rewards points, you can earn 15 points per mile for flower orders from Teleflora. Looking for something other than flowers? Shopping portals are also featuring deals for Fragrance.net (5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar) and Perfumania (buy one get one 50% 0ff and 8 AA miles per dollar) as well as Sephora (8 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar) and Avon (4 United MileagePlus miles per dollar). Before purchasing be sure to check sites like evreward.com and rewardsDB.com to make sure you'll be getting the most points/miles for your gift.
3. Buy Miles: Although it’s usually a low-value proposition, sometimes airlines run buy miles bonuses of up to 100% that can make premium redemptions a bargain. For example, Avianca/TACA is offering a 100% buy miles bonus until April 30 where you can purchase miles for as little as 1.5 cents each (the average price drops even further if you take advantage of miles + cash awards) that mean you (or your mom) can get anywhere the Star Alliance flies for a fraction of what it would normally cost. Now only is buying miles thoughtful, but giving a one on one session teach them how to use them is priceless.
4. Transfer Bonus: Is your mom a jetsetter in her own right? Why not give her the gift of travel for less by taking advantage of a transfer bonus? Right now, American Express is offering a 35% transfer bonus on points to British Airways Avios. If old Blighty’s not her cup of tea, you can hold off to see what other bonuses come our way, but with BA’s Oneworld partners, distance-based awards and fabulous premium classes of service, a BA award might just be the perfect gift. If you don’t have Membership Rewards, think about waiting until one of the airlines has a “share miles” bonus and transfer your miles so your mom has enough for a visit – well, a short visit!
5. Luggage: We all come with baggage, and “it’s always the mother’s fault,” but give your mom the gift of actual baggage this year with some premium luggage. I personally recommend the Tumi Vapor Carry On, which is often on sales on discount sites like Ruelala. Tumi is one of my favorite luggage brands because of their sleek, stylish looks and great warranty and repair benefits. This two-wheeled carry is lightweight but tought thanks with a triple layer of ABS and polycarbonate alloy. She'll look great strolling through the airport with it.
6. Hotel Spas: Hotels, and not just destination resorts, have some of the best spas in the world thanks to strategic partnerships like the St. Regis’s one with Elemis and Hilton’s Eforea spas, not to mention one-offs like the Clarins spa at the Raffles Royal Monceau or the La Prairie Spa at the Hotel Bel-Air, so if you’re thinking about treating mommy dearest to a day of pampering and relaxation, send her to a spa at a hotel. That way you can potentially rack up tons of bonus points either by using a co-branded card that earns bonus points at a particular chain such as the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex or the Hyatt Visa, or a card that generally earns bonuses on travel categories that include hotels such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold or Plus, or the Barclaycard Arrival card (both the version with no annual fee and the one with the $89 annual fee waived the first year). That way your mom gets a great day out and you get some bonus points!
7. Hotel Gift Cards: Although it might be more intuitive simply to book a hotel stay for your mom as a present, it can actually make a lot more sense to get her some hotel gift cards. That way she can use them on a hotel stay, but also on food and beverage at the hotel, and even other things like gift shop purchases and spa treatments. Not only that, but you can purchase these gift cards at outlets where you earn a category spending bonus to maximize the points you’re earning. For instance, you can pick up Marriott gift cards at Office Depot and Staples, so if you have the Ink Bold or Ink Plus, you’re earning 5X points per $1 on office supply purchases. Some drugstores such as CVS or Walgreen’s also sell these, so if you have a card that earns a bonus there, such as the Hilton Amex or Hilton Surpass cards, both of which earn 6X points per $1 at drugstores.
8. Other Gift Cards: Don’t know what to get for your mom? Don’t write her a check, but get her a gift card instead – and no, we’re not talking about the Applebee’s ones sitting on the rack. Instead, purchase one from Amazon.com or an American Express or Visa gift card that basically works just like a prepaid credit card for whatever purchase she wants to make. That way, you can maximize your category spending bonus depending on what kind of merchant you buy it at – for example, if you were to buy an Amazon or Visa gift card at a gas station, you could use your American Express Premier Rewards Gold or Business Rewards Gold card to earn 2X points per $1 you spend, maximizing your earning and her purchase power.
9. Travel-size Accessories; Everyone hates the 3-ounce liquid carry-on rule, but use it to your advantage to get your mom that ultra-premium La Mer eye cream she’s been hinting about (not that she needs it!) – only now you have an excuse to get it in the 1.7-ounce instead of the 3.4-ounce size.
10. Brunch: One of the most hallowed Mother’s Day rituals is family brunch, and who doesn’t love a great buffet? Take some of the sting out of restaurants jacking up their prices, though, by going to a restaurant that participates in the Dining Rewards Network of the airline or hotel that you’ve linked your credit card to so that you’re earning between 3-5 miles/points per $1 you spend, and if you can, double dip with a credit card that earns a category spending bonus at restaurants such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Freedom (this quarter) plus OpenTable rewards even to triple dip! Now that’s enough to work up an appetite.
These were just some ideas to get you thinking- what are yo getting for Mom this Mother's Day?