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Honeymooning in Paris and Prague — reader success story

March 18, 2020
5 min read
Honeymooning in Paris and Prague — reader success story
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Doug, who used points and miles to book a multi-destination trip to Europe:

I have been a TPG reader for more than three years now. I stockpiled points and miles to book a fantastic honeymoon itinerary for October of 2020. We will be getting married in Scotland, and honeymooning in Paris and Prague.

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We live in Amarillo, Texas, so finding award space in and out of our home airport can be difficult. I began searching the three major alliances a year out from our travel dates. I first was able to book our Paris hotel by transferring 120,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (earned on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and others) to World of Hyatt for four nights at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme. At the time of booking, the cash price of our stay would have been $3,592, netting me a redemption value of 2.99 cents per point.

Next, I found award space on Delta for our outbound leg, flying from Dallas to Edinburgh via Detroit and Amsterdam, including a chance to fly the Delta One Suite on the A350. I booked it by transferring 160,000 Membership Reward Points (earned on the American Express® Gold Card and others) to my SkyMiles account. On the day of purchase, the tickets cost $7,570.50 per ticket. I also booked a short hop on American Airlines from Amarillo to Dallas for $250 each. Less the American flight, taxes and fees, I was able to get a redemption value of 9.22 cents per point.

Finally, I booked our return flights using AAdavantage miles. I had a balance of 73,750 miles earned from flying and the sign-up bonus from the AAdvantage Aviator Red Card. I found award space from Prague to Amarillo (via London, Nashville and Dallas) for 115,000 miles total, with the chance to fly the new BA Club Suite on the 787-10. I could not force through an identical itinerary for cash fares, but a similar one was listed at $5,212 per person when I booked. For two tickets, less the cost of the remaining miles I purchased and the infamous taxes and fees out of London, I was able to get a redemption value of 7.6 cents per mile and return home on one reservation.

We plan to use cash to book our Prague hotel, as redemption values do not seem to be all that great (at least currently). Thanks to TPG, I have been able to book a honeymoon that has a cash value in excess of $27,000 using points and miles! Thank you for getting me hooked!

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Doug's story highlights several award travel strategies. First, booking a positioning flight (like his short hop to Dallas) is a great way for those who fly out of smaller airports to take advantage of flight deals and award availability from hubs and other large cities. That approach may also come in handy even if you live in a major metropolitan area, so look for opportunities to save on your next trip by expanding your search to include nearby airports.

Second, if you don't have enough miles on hand to book an award, consider buying more to cover the balance. You'll get the best return by waiting for a promotional bonus, but points and miles purchases can also make sense at standard prices if you need to top up your account for a high-value redemption. Finally, when award rates are subpar, you may be better off paying cash like Doug plans to do in Prague. Save your rewards for the best opportunities rather than burning them to lower your out-of-pocket expenses.

One part of Doug's analysis I disagree with is his methodology for calculating redemption value. One-way transatlantic fares tend to be hugely inflated compared to round-trip fares, so they don't make a good basis for assessing redemption value unless buying round-trip isn't an option. For example, I see round-trip business class itineraries from Amarillo to Edinburgh and back from Prague for around $3,100 per person in October. It's not an apples to apples comparison because the flight products are different, but it indicates the prices Doug used in his calculation are too high. That's not to knock his redemptions, but to remind you to consider alternatives, and to not make redemption value the focal point of your awards.

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage

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 Doug 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!

Featured image by (Photo by Marius Serban/Unsplash)
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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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
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

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases