Wondering how your favorite online influencers or friends are paying for those vacations that they're on seemingly every month? Odds are they're using points and miles. But you don't need a half-dozen or more credit cards to join them.
If you're just getting started with credit card points and miles, it can be overwhelming. Let's start simple: A single credit card sign-up bonus can easily net you 60,000 miles or more. Spend responsibly, pay it off in full, and you've got points to fuel your next trip.
With more than 100 international airlines and the ability to transfer credit card points to airlines, even one bonus can get you almost anywhere in the world: A roundtrip flight to Hawaii, Europe in business class, Asia, or even the Middle East in your own suite.
As you try to plan some trips for 2024 and beyond, here are five amazing flights you can book with just one sign-up bonus.
Roundtrip Flights to Hawaii for 2
We get it. If you're planning on vacationing in Hawaii, you're probably planning on paying a pretty penny for flights there and back.
It doesn't have to be that way.
After earning a welcome bonus of 50,000 points or more from just one credit card, you'll have enough miles to book roundtrip flights for yourself and a companion. The trick is using … British Airways?
You read that right. Even though British Airways doesn't fly between the U.S. and Hawaii, it's partners with both American Airlines and Alaska Airlines through the Oneworld alliance. And that means you can use British Airways Avios to book flights to Hawaii on both carriers.
By doing it this way, you can book a roundtrip flights from many West Coast cities like Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Portland (PDX), and even Phoenix (PHX) to any of the four major Hawaiian islands for just 32,000 miles.
It's an American Airlines flight, so you could also use AAdvantage miles to book this one. But that would cost you 45,000 AAdvantage miles for the exact same flights. Same planes, same times. Now you see why British Airways is the way to go, and why it's one of our favorite ways to fly to Hawaii for cheap.
Plenty of cards will get you the points you need, but our favorite is the *amex gold*. Not only can you earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 points (or maybe as much as a 90,000-point bonus!) after spending $6,000 in the first six months on eligible purchases – but it's also one of the best cards to earn even more points at restaurants and grocery stores.
Read our full review of the Amex Gold Card
There are other ways to use those points for a trip to Hawaii, too. You could transfer them to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club instead, booking roundtrips from the West Coast for as low as 30,000 Virgin points – or a bit more from other cities like Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and Detroit (DTW). Or transfer those points straight to Delta when you see a great Delta SkyMiles flash sale to Hawaii … for as low as 14,000 SkyMiles roundtrip!
The Amex Gold Card is quite literally your golden ticket to beachside lounging and lively luaus for the manageable annual fee of $250 (see rates & fees).
Learn more about the *amex gold*
A Trip to Japan
Japan tops the list of destinations for travelers these days, but getting there is expensive. Yet you could stroll through the beautiful pink cherry blossom paths in Tokyo next year by using just one credit card welcome bonus.
The trick is starting in Seattle (SEA) and turning back to Virgin Atlantic, which charges just 55,000 Virgin points for a roundtrip in Delta main cabin economy – a fraction of what Delta itself charges for the exact same flights. There also other nonstop flights from Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), and Los Angeles (LAX) you can book, but those will cost you more points. that will cost you more points to redeem.
This is by far the cheapest way to fly to Asia.
Tons of credit cards earn points that you can transfer to Virgin Atlantic, but it's always a good bet to start with Chase credit cards. For the everyday person, the *chase sapphire preferred* tops our list thanks to an affordable annual fee of just $95. The bonus is great, too: bonus_miles_full
Learn more about the *csp*.
Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
Spain and Back (Including in Business Class!)
If you want to get to Europe and back, you won't find a cheaper way to do it using miles than this.
Most airlines charge at least 30,000 miles to get to Europe in economy, and another 30,000 to get home. But if you time it right, you can fly with a major international airline for just 34,000 miles round-trip.
The secret is to use Iberia, the flag carrier from Spain. This airline has the consistently lowest prices to get to Europe using miles. Iberia has even held limited-time promotions slashing even that bargain price in half – 17,000 miles round trip! You can't get to Las Vegas or Chicago one-way for that price. It's one of the best deals in points and miles.
You have to fly during “off-peak” times to snag that 34,000-mile rate. But that includes all but the peak summer months of June through August, plus few weeks scattered throughout the year. Check and see just how wide-open that schedule is.
You can fly from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), Boston (BOS), New York City (JFK), and Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD) at this price. Fly into Iberia's Madrid (MAD) hub and spend some time in Spain, or connect onward throughout Europe.
Want to cross the Atlantic in a lie-flat seat? Iberia also offers a way to do it with fewer points than almost any airline – cheaper than what many airlines charge for economy, even! And that means a single credit card bonus can make it a reality.
This Spanish flag carrier also has great award rates for business class: You just need to transfer 68,000 points to Iberia (or British Airways) for a roundtrip in Iberia business class!
The welcome bonus offer you earn from a premium travel card like the *amex platinum* will be enough to get you there and back in business class: bonus_miles_full
Some customers are still being targeted for a much better offer: 150,000 points via CardMatch after spending $8,000 in the first six months. You may also be able to get a 150,000-point welcome offer bonus via personal referral links or searching for the card in an incognito browser.
Although the card comes with a hefty annual fee of $695 (see rates & fees), you may come out ahead by maximizing the laundry list of statement credits and unbeatable travel benefits on the card. Oh and don't forget: You're also getting enough points to book a roundtrip to Europe in business class … and maybe even enough to bring a companion along.
Learn more about *amex platinum*.
Read our full review of the Amex Platinum card.
Fly Delta One for 50K Points … But Not With SkyMiles
If only you could score a cozy, lie-flat bed flying Delta on the long flight across the Atlantic Ocean for cheap, right? How's nearly free sound?
Delta One suites are one of the best business class seats in the world, with your own bed and a closing door. They're spacious, chic, and luxurious, and come with exemplary service and great meals.
I'll be honest: This one has gotten tricky to pull off lately. But it's worth keeping in mind because it's such an incredible deal.
But making this happen is easier said than done. Finding the award availability through Virgin Atlantic to actually book these Delta business class seats can be a chore – especially lately.
Still, we're always digging for when these flights pop up and alerting our Thrifty Traveler Premium members when they do … like earlier this month, when we spotted a raft of Delta business class award space from New York to Brussels (BRU), Frankfurt (FRA), and even Zurich (ZRH) for early next year bookable through Virgin Atlantic.
These seats are gone now, get the next award alert for open Delta One seats to Europe with Thrifty Traveler Premium!
Virgin is a transfer partner of Capital One (along with American Express, Chase, and Citi). As long as you've got the points, you can transfer them instantly to Virgin Atlantic to book a deal like this. The welcome bonus you would earn by opening the *venture x* would be enough to fly one-way to Europe in style while having some points left over: bonus_miles_full. Don't be scared off by the $395 annual fee – it basically pays for itself with the benefits that come with the card, the included $300 annual travel credit and more.
Learn more about the *venture x*.
Read our full review of the Venture X card.
Fly the World's Best Biz Class
What's the single best business class in the world? We say it's the Qatar Airways QSuite.
Don't believe us? The seat is the first business class in the sky with a fully-closing door that made a true “first class” seem irrelevant. These business class seats – and the airline itself – have piled up accolades and constant praise as the best business class in the world.
It's not hard to see why.
If you're looking to fly to the Middle East in style, you could fly from several U.S. gateways to Qatar Airway's hub in Doha (DOH) for 70,000 American AAdvantage miles in Qatar's Qsuites one-way. There are plenty of U.S. gateways from which Qatar flies its Qsuites. Heck, you can even connect onward to Dubai (DXB), Muscat (MCT), or even the Maldives (MLE) and still use just 70,000 AAdvantage miles.
But the best part about this deal is just how easy it is to earn those miles. Most credit cards require you to spend $3,000 to $4,000 or more to get that big bonus, but one card can get you at least 60,000 miles by paying the $99 annual fee and buying a pack of gum – or 75,000 AAdvantage miles with a second, small purchase.
Say hello to the Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. It might be a mouthful, but it's one of the best credit card bonuses on the market today – and the easiest to earn, too.
Pay the card's annual fee of $99 and make a single purchase, and 60,000 miles are yours. You can earn an additional 15,000 miles for adding an authorized user and having them make a purchase within 90 days, too.
Apply Here (for full disclosure, this is a personal referral link).
Read more about the AAdvantage Miles with Aviator Red Card
You don't need to open a bunch of credit cards and spend money you don't have to take an amazing trip using points and miles. In fact, you shouldn't: Credit cards and debt are serious business.
But these five examples are just a small slice of what's possible by starting slow, opening a single credit card with the right plan in place.