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How We Flew to the Azores for Under $200 — Reader Success Story

Feb. 05, 2018
4 min read
Angra do Heroismo
How We Flew to the Azores for Under $200 — Reader Success Story
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Peter, who used miles to save on flights for an anniversary trip abroad. Here's what he had to say:

My wife and I live in Los Angeles, and we've been wanting to visit the Azores for a while after reading about how amazing the islands are. Thanks to tips we picked up from TPG, this summer we'll be able to celebrate our wedding anniversary there after spending next to nothing on airfare.

Last summer I signed up for the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from Amex and earned a bonus of 60,000 miles. In a separate promotion later in the year, I signed up for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Card and earned 70,000 more miles as a welcome bonus. After booking an award I was left with just over 110,000 miles total. In January we saw that Delta awards from LAX to the Azores this summer were available for 60,000 miles per person round-trip in economy. I was 10,000 miles short of the 120,000 that I needed, but I didn't want to resort to buying the miles or transferring points from Amex Membership Rewards.

Around the same time I received a targeted promotion for my Gold SkyMiles card offering a referral bonus of 10,000 miles for me and a bonus of 60,000 miles for the new cardholder. I immediately referred my wife to sign up, so she'll get her own 60,000 miles after meeting the spending requirement. Meanwhile, the 10,000 miles I received gave me enough to book our two round-trip tickets to the Azores for just the cost of taxes and fees!

The cherry on top was that I also received a $100 statement credit for Delta purchases when I signed up for the Platinum SkyMiles card, and I used that to pay for the taxes and fees on our tickets. In total we saved close to $2,200 on airfare, since flights were priced at $1,200 each (minus the $195 annual fee for the Platinum card). Plus, we'll have 60,000 miles and a $50 statement credit for a future trip!

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Peter used statement credits from his Delta Amex card to cover taxes and fees on his award booking.

Peter's story is a good example of how you can benefit from increased credit card welcome bonuses. The standard offers for the Gold and Platinum Delta SkyMiles cards come with 30,000 and 35,000 miles, respectively, after making $1,000 in purchases in the first three months. By taking advantage of offers for 60,000 and 70,000 miles — and meeting the higher spending requirements — Peter doubled his take and earned more than enough for him and his wife to visit the Azores.

The lesson is that when you're thinking of applying for a new credit card, you shouldn't settle for the first application you find. Do some research and see if a superior offer is available, or if one might become available soon based on historical trends. That's especially important with American Express cards, since applicants are generally limited to a single welcome bonus per card per lifetime. If you're only going to get one shot, make the most of it!

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Peter for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Feature photo by Tan Yilmaz via Getty Images.

Featured image by Getty Images