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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Ryan, who saved over $1,000 on airfare by booking an economy award to Europe:
One goal of mine since graduating college was to travel the world and experience new cultures; first on my list was to visit Ireland with my father. During my senior year, I started following The Points Guy and saw the value I could get from credit card points. I had started a photography business in school, so I decided to apply for my first business credit card and got the American Express® Business Gold Card. The welcome bonus was 50,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months (this offer is no longer available), and I got the card knowing I would be making a large investment in camera gear.
After I hit the minimum spend requirement, I had a balance of 57,000 Membership Rewards points. Flights to Ireland after my graduation in May were around $650 round-trip for economy seats, but I saw that May was considered off-peak season, and round-trip flights when booking with Avios cost 26,000 points per person. I had to call to book the award, but the process only took 30 minutes. With taxes and fees, I paid 52,000 points and $123 per person, so I was able to save over $1,000 total by booking with points!
Avios is a peculiar loyalty currency because it’s used by multiple frequent flyer programs. Those programs are interchangeable to a degree, since you can transfer points between them. However, each one has its own award chart with distinct sweet spots, partners, routing rules and surcharges, so it’s important to know how to maximize them individually. Ryan’s award is a good example, since British Airways and Aer Lingus charge the same number of points for Aer Lingus flights between Ireland and many North American destinations, but Aer Lingus charges nearly double in taxes and fees. By booking through British Airways, Ryan saved roughly $300 extra.
To open a business credit card, you’ll need to have an actual business, but it doesn’t have to be a full-time, brick and mortar operation. Plenty of part-time gigs and other small enterprises could qualify, like an Etsy shop or freelance work. It’s worth finding out if you’re eligible not only because business cards offer a variety of strong benefits and sign-up bonus offers, but also because these cards typically don’t show up on your personal credit report. That means activity on your account won’t impact your credit score, and opening new accounts won’t count against you with regard to some application restrictions.
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 Ryan 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; 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!
Featured photo by diogo palhais/Unsplash
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WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
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- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
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- $550 annual fee.
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