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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 will 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 Shazan, who scored a great hotel deal by using the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits on his Amex Platinum card.

Today I want to share a story from TPG Reader Kim, who made her family trip more affordable with the US Airways Companion Certificate. Here’s what Kim had to say:

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The US Airways Premier World MasterCard comes with two $99 companion certificates.

Hi TPG, I wanted to share our success story of how we used the US Airways Companion Certificate to book an awesome spring break trip.

My husband works in education and my daughter is in 2nd grade, so our travel times are limited to school breaks and summers. Plus, we live in rural Colorado, so the nearest major airport is a four hour drive; our regional airport in Durango is usually expensive and has limited options. Award redemptions typically aren’t a good value because there’s almost never saver level space out of Durango.

Generally, our spring break vacations end up being road trips because flying is either too expensive or we don’t have enough time to drive to a big airport. We’ve always wanted to take our daughter to San Francisco, but it never worked out with our time frame and budget. However, this year is an exception because we were able to use the US Airways Companion Certificates from the US Airways Premier World MasterCard to book flights out of Durango! 

US Airways is one of the three carriers that offer service from our airport year round, and I was able to find availability during spring break for $415 to San Francisco. Our travel budget couldn’t accommodate the more than $1200 we’d have to spend on airfare if we bought three tickets at the normal price, but by using the companion certificates, we were able to buy one ticket at full price and get two more for $99 each plus taxes. It was like getting half price on our flights! Now we’ll have more time to visit our destination instead of spending two days in the car.

Thanks for all the advice! I’m not sure I would have even paid attention to the little certificate without reading about all the extra benefits that come with rewards cards in addition to the points and miles.

Kim and her family found an excellent use for the companion certificate benefit. As Kim says, sometimes it’s easy to focus on the points and miles, but loyalty programs and travel rewards cards offer plenty of other worthwhile perks. In this case, they saved around $600, and were able to take a trip that might not have happened otherwise. That’s a pretty good value for an $89 annual fee, especially considering they’ll get even more out of the 50,000 mile sign-up bonus.

3 tickets from Durango to San Francisco for around $650 is a pretty sweet deal! Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

I love this story, and I want to hear more like it! To thank Kim 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 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!

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.