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Booking a Delta vacation package — reader success story

Sept. 27, 2019
5 min read
Booking a Delta vacation package — reader success story
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Paul, who used his transferable points to take advantage of a recent SkyMiles promotion:

I’m new to credit card rewards, having signed up for my first credit card ever a year ago (a secured card from TD Bank because I did not have any credit history). The card offers 3% cash back on dining and 2% on groceries, and after about seven months, TD upgraded it to an actual credit card with the same cash back return. But last month I started thinking about getting a card that earns travel rewards; while cash back is convenient, it doesn't provide the same excitement of an award flight or a free hotel stay.

So I did my homework and began to research options by reading credit card reviews. I even created a spreadsheet to summarize my spending in the last 12 months and calculate my potential points earnings to see which card would suit me best. In the end, I decided to go with the American Express® Gold Card because most of my spending is dining and groceries, and I was able to get a bonus of 50,000 points (no longer available) after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

At first I had a little buyer's remorse when I realized how difficult it is to use Amex airline incidental credits, and that the dining credit only applies to a limited pool of options. But it turned out great when Delta offered double the normal value when redeeming SkyMiles for vacation packages. My husband and I were married two years ago, but never had the chance to go on a trip together. Since he grew up in Chicago, we had always wanted to go here so he could show me the city. After seeing the Delta promotion, I got online immediately and booked us a five-day trip there.

The whole vacation package, including flights from Boston to Chicago and four nights at The Drake Hotel, would have cost $1,280. Instead, I transferred 58,000 points from Amex to Delta (50,000 from my bonus and another 8,000 from spending). Those points were worth $1,160, so I only had to pay $120 out of pocket for our trip. Even better, I got my $100 airline incidental fee credit from booking this vacation package. I was surprised, because I thought the credit only applied to things like checked bags or inflight food and drinks, but it turned out a vacation package triggered it as well.

In the end, the final amount for our flights and hotels came to just $20, which is unthinkable to me. The card is working out really well because I'm able to utilize all the credits and benefits, including the frequently overlooked premium roadside assistance. My next goal is to save up enough points for a first-class flight to Singapore. Anyway, I just want to thank you all for your help in the world of travel, points and rewards!

This story exemplifies why transferable rewards carry a premium over points or miles with an individual loyalty program. Award sales, transfer bonuses and other promotions (like the one Paul took advantage of) create opportunities for high-value redemptions, but when you stockpile rewards with a single airline or hotel, you only benefit from promotions associated with that program. If your rewards are portable instead, then you can direct them toward whichever program offers the best return when you're ready to book. You can still score outsized redemption value with rewards from a single travel provider, but having more options improves your odds of getting a great deal.

When you're looking for a credit card to maximize your everyday spending, it helps to know exactly what you're spending on. Paul analyzed his purchases from the previous year to sort out which card would be most rewarding, but if you can't commit to that level of precision, it's worth looking over at least a few months of statements to get a general sense of where your money is going. You can also use a money management app like Mint or Albert, both of which let you choose how spending is categorized (so you can track purchases according to the credit card bonus categories that interest you most).

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Related: A guide to earning transferable points

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Paul a 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 info@thepointsguy.com; 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, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected.

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

Note: American Express will discontinue roadside assistance and premium roadside assistance on all of its cards effective January 1, 2020

Vote for TPG UK's four-class British Airways review in this year's Lovie Awards!

Featured image by (Photo by Philip Rozenski/Getty Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023