Our Team’s Favorite Uses of Points and Miles in 2018

Top Redemptions 2018

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We have a motto here at Thrifty Traveler: The best use of points and miles is for a flight you wouldn’t otherwise take. And we lived up to that motto in 2018.

From a ridiculously spacious first class suite to a free trip to Hawaii for two, we all tried to get the most out of our points and miles last year. Here’s a look at our favorite redemptions from 2018.

Jared, Founder and CEO: My Own Suite to Sydney

There are luxurious and spacious first class seats. And then there’s Singapore Airlines new first class suites.

The best airline in the world didn’t disappoint. It started with access to an incredible lounge reserved only for first class passengers called The Private Room. There was caviar and a vintage Krug champagne onboard. Oh, and a fold-out double bed.


Top Redemptions 2018


When you’re used to measuring legroom in inches, the 50 square feet of private space you get in each suite is mind-blowing. Check out my Instagram story from the trip to follow along.

Along with Singapore’s business class, you can only book these luxurious seats using Singapore Krisflyer miles. Luckily, those miles are incredibly easy to pile up, as you can transfer them from Chase, American Express, Citi, and even Capital One credit cards. This flight from Singapore (SIN) to Sydney (SYD) cost me 80,000 miles.


Nick, Co-Founder: A Flight to Austria with My 1-Year-Old Daughter in Business Class

I have been collecting and redeeming points and miles for almost 10 years. However, the trip I took with my family this December to Europe tops all of my previous redemptions. We used 75,000 Delta SkyMiles each to fly from Minneapolis to Vienna, Austria (with a stop in Amsterdam) on Delta’s Sky Team alliance partner, KLM.

The flight from Minneapolis (MSP) to Amsterdam (AMS) was on KLM’s high-tech Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.


Top Redemptions 2018

KLM’s business class seat on board the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner


What made this flight unforgettable was that it was my 1-year-old daughter’s first international flight – her first time sitting up front in business class. Kids two years of age and under fly free on the lap of an adult regardless of which cabin you are ticketed in.


Top Redemptions 2018

Nick’s daughter enjoying herself in business class


On top of that, it was my mother and father in law’s first time flying in business class as well. I helped them navigate the points earning and redemption to make the trip a possibility. Seeing their faces once they boarded the aircraft and realized where they were sitting is something I will never forget.


Kyle, Editor-in-Chief: A Honeymoon Flight in Business Class

There were so many incredible layers to this flight – where do I start? In the afterglow of our marriage, we hopped on a 15-hour flight en route to Bali, the Island of the Gods. To celebrate the start of our marriage, we flew in business class for the first time ever, sipping a $300 bottle of champagne, eating incredible food, and sleeping in our own cozy and spacious seats that recline into beds. We were onboard EVA Air, one of the top-ranked airlines in the world renowned for its service and catering.  To top it all off, we were on a Hello Kitty-themed jet, full of Hello Kitty amenities, graphics, and other goodies. The entire experience was surreal – I had to pinch myself a few times.


Top Redemptions 2018


But best of all, these tickets – which would have cost $5,000 to $6,000 – were nearly free. I booked these flights for 78,000 miles each using Avianca LifeMiles. It’s one of our favorite frequent flyer programs, combining good rates to fly from point A to point B using miles and very low award fees. And even if you don’t fly Avianca, these miles are insanely easy to earn. You can transfer them from credit cards like American Express, Citi, and Capital One.


Mikhala, Senior Editor: Two Free Flights to Hawaii

This points redemption was peak Thrifty Traveler. In January, we found an insanely cheap flight deal and sent out immediately to Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers: Minneapolis to Honolulu for $302 roundtrip. I’ve never been to Hawaii and was itching to cross the islands off my bucket list.

Lucky for me, I had recently opened a Delta Gold SkyMiles card which was offering an increased welcome bonus of 60,000 SkyMiles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of having the card. I used the card to book two roundtrip tickets for my boyfriend and me for 30k points each using one of our favorite tools, the Delta Pay with Miles feature.

It was the perfect match: I used my 60,000 points from my welcome offer bonus to fly us to Hawaii for just $27.80 in taxes and fees. You can read more about how I booked this particular points redemption here.

Thrifty Tip: Want to save even more on your next trip to Hawaii? Try camping. Read my guide to camping in Kauai and enjoy a low-cost way to spend time in Hawaii’s lush scenery.


Top Redemptions 2018

Mikhala’s view flying into Honolulu.


Bottom Line

Look at this list, and you’ll see just how far points and miles can really go. Many of these flights were booked using just a big points bonus from a single credit card. But whether you want to fly in style or just fly more often, points and miles can help get you there.

If you need help sorting out which credit card is right for you or the best way to use your miles, we offer free credit card consulting to all Thrifty Traveler Premium members.

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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