Learning to Book Partner Awards: TPG Reader Success Story

May 6, 2015

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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 readers Mark & Katie, who are using their points for a free business class trip to Asia later this year, including stays at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo and the Grand Hyatt in Seoul.

Today I want to share a story from TPG Reader Chandler, who maximized his points by transferring to international airline partners. Here’s what he had to say:

Chandler got to Madrid in business class for 45,000 miles and about $28. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Until recently I had focused on earning miles with domestic carriers, since I was apprehensive about the logistics of using foreign airline loyalty programs. However, thanks to your website I became confident enough to venture into uncharted territory — with great results!

My goal was to find a business class seat from Miami to Madrid in late June. I usually use Chase Ultimate Rewards points (from my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink Plus Business Card), but this time I wanted to chip away at some of the Amex Membership Rewards points that I had stockpiled.

With your guidance I figured out how to get great value out of transferring my Amex points to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program. Not only was I able to use fewer miles than I would have with United, but also I was able to avoid the dreaded higher taxes and fees often imposed by European airlines.

A business class seat on Avianca (from Miami to Madrid via Bogotá) was only 45,000 Aeroplan miles and $27.80. On United, the best option was in business class on TAP (via Lisbon) for 70,000 miles and $19. I would have been tempted to burn some AAdvantage miles if there were non-stop MIA-MAD availability, but the best option was through London on British Airways for 50,000 miles and a whopping $490.20.

Making this Aeroplan/Avianca flight work is a huge success for me, as I was able to finally utilize Membership Rewards points, spend fewer points overall, avoid high taxes and fees and get comfortable with some non-domestic loyalty programs. That familiarity came in handy shortly after when I used Aeroplan to book a last minute, first-class seat on United from Los Angeles to Boston without the close-in booking fee I would have been charged through the MileagePlus program.

Thanks for helping me experience the bliss of virtually free first and business class travel!

One of the most common mistakes made by inexperienced award travelers is thinking that you have to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles within the same program. Not only is it possible to redeem with other airlines (thanks to alliances and other useful partnerships), transfers and partners awards are often the best option you have! I’ve written at length about how to get great value from programs like American Airlines AAdvantageDelta SkyMilesBritish Airways Avios and others by taking advantage of airline partners, and once you learn how to search for availability, it’s not all that difficult.

Of course, transferability is one of the main attractions of credit card loyalty programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards. Chandler put his Amex points to good use by directing them to the program that was most useful for the award he wanted. That flexibility is what makes those points so powerful, and explains why they’re always at the top of my monthly valuations.

Your points can take you far if you use them wisely, and that’s what I’m here to help you do!

I love this story, and I want to hear more like it! To thank Chandler for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on his travels, 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 info@thepointsguy.com 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!


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

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.