My First Award Redemption — Reader Success Story

Aug 21, 2019

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Alan, who booked a trip to South America with his wife:

I’ve been consistently reading and following TPG for a little over a year now, and I wanted to share the story of my first award redemption. Last year, I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with an increased welcome bonus, and a few months later, my wife signed up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card so we could start getting 1.5x points per dollar on all our non-bonus spending. Fast forward to this spring, and after one year of earning together we had accumulated over 200,000 points between our accounts!

We had been talking about taking a trip to Peru next year to hike to Machu Picchu and enjoy the beautiful country and culture there. When Chase introduced their first-ever transfer bonus to British Airways, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to transfer some points to my Avios account and book flights on American Airlines out of our home in Dallas. I transferred 68,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which equaled 88,400 Avios after the 30% bonus. 

I then used 88,000 Avios (plus $146.72 in taxes/fees) to book two round-trip, economy tickets from Dallas (DFW) to Lima (LIM) on American Airlines. The cash price of our tickets would have been $1,618, so the final value of my Ultimate Rewards points ended up being 2.16 cents per point! The transfer bonus saved us 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which is a huge value that we can either use for hotels in Peru or for future flights. Thanks for your help, recommendations and ideas!

When I try to explain award travel to the uninitiated, I’m sometimes met with skepticism. People are reluctant to believe earning and redeeming points is worthwhile and they expect there to be a catch, but Alan’s story is a straightforward example of how much value you can gain from simply collecting a few credit card sign-up bonuses. If you’re in a position to get approved and meet the spending requirements, it’s not hard to earn bonuses offering over $500 in value, with some yielding more than double that amount (based on TPG’s latest valuations). There are other ways to earn points, but none so efficient.

To be fair, such rosy outcomes aren’t guaranteed. Booking award flights can be challenging (especially in first and business class) and there are pitfalls to avoid, but there’s also little downside to the points and miles game as long as you stay organized and manage your credit responsibly. The upshot is that there’s no need to feel intimidated if you’re new to award travel. Start by checking out our beginner’s guide and learning basic strategies to maximize your rewards, and find a community (like the TPG Lounge on Facebook) where you can ask questions and get feedback. Most of all, have fun! Award travel can be rewarding far beyond the money saved, so dive in and see where it takes you.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

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 Alan 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; 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 Jeremiah Berman / Unsplash.

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.