The other day, my friend, Erick reached out asking how he could get his family of 3 to Paris. He says he can open 2 to 3 cards for this trip and he already has some points and cash back. He has some flexibility on dates, but he was hoping for May of 2016. So, how would we get his family to Paris, for little to no money out of pocket?
After asking a few questions about his point totals, he told me he has about 20,000 Ultimate Reward points and roughly $800 in cash back.
Since Erick can open 2 to 3 cards for this trip, we want to get him large sign up bonuses! After a few searches for flights, flying United Airlines is going to be his best option.
I did a search in May, I chose dates May 13 to May 21st, but there are seats all month long. The flight lands on May 14th, so leaving the 21st gives them a full week in Paris. The actual cost of the flights is $3,945.30.
United Airlines has wide open coach seating in May, which is great since he need 3 seats. Flying United, Erick will need 180,000 United Airline miles to fly his family round trip. United Airlines is a transfer partner for Chase (1:1), American Express and SPG (2:1). There is a better option (cheaper) to fly United Airlines!
Singapore Airlines is a Star Alliance partner with United and actually charges less miles than United to fly on the same plane!
Flying round trip to Europe will cost 55,000 per person (165,000 miles total), which will save Erick 15,000 points, instead of booking the flight with United miles! To make it even better, Singapore Airlines is a 1:1 transfer partner for Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards and Thank You points. Earning Singapore Airline miles is very easy to do.
In order to book United flight using Singapore Airline miles, you need to call Singapore Airlines to book. You will need to find Award Saver seats on United to book with Singapore miles.
It is best to have all the information for the United Airline flight to book (flight numbers, flight times, airports involved). The more information you have the smoother it will be. I did this when booking our trip to Hawaii, it was very easy and fast!
My Credit Card Recommendations:
Now that we have figured out which airline he will fly, what cards will he need?
Erick and his wife, Jen, will each open the American Express PGR for 50,000 Membership Rewards after $1,000 spend in the first 90 days. This also will earn then $400 in airline credits (gift cards) before the annual fee is due. This could be helpful for future trips as well. The annual fee of $195 is waived for the first year.
Erick will only need to open one Citi Premier for this trip. The Citi Premier is offering 50,000 Thank You points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year. I consider this the top travel credit card.
With these 3 cards and his current 20,000 Ultimate Reward point, Erick will have a total 170,000 point.
In opening 3 cards, Erick will pay 155,000 points and $396.60. He would pay roughly 10% of the actual cost of his flights!
Where to Stay?
Luckily for Erick, he has plenty of cash back from using his Citi Double Cash, Discover It, and American Express Blue Cash Preferred. He currently has around $800 in cash back and he could very well earn more for his trip. Once his bonuses have been reached on the new cards, he could go back to earning cash back for this trip.
He only wanted to open 3 cards max for this trip and when looking at hotels, they can be quite pricey! To save money and have plenty of options for staying in Paris, he could consider Airbnb. He would be able to rent a whole apartment or house, then use his cash back to pay for his room.
These are a few Airbnb options near the Eiffel Tower. After fees these few range from $776 to $1227 for a week. This is cheaper than hotels and he would have a whole apartment/house for his stay. There are many other Airbnb options to choose from.
Since Erick will have 15,000 points left over from his sign up bonuses, he could use 10,000 Membership Reward points, he can turn them in for $100 Airbnb gift card. Although, it is not the best value, it will save him an extra $100 on his reservation.
When booking his Airbnb, Erick should book using his Citi Premier because it earns 3 Thank You points per dollar spent on travel. This would earn him a few thousand points!
He currently has enough cash back to pay for part or all of his Airbnb reservation and he has plenty of time to earn more to pay for a more expensive Airbnb if he chooses. This will cost him $0 for his week stay.
With opening 3 credit cards and using his cash back he has already earned, Erick can save himself a minimum of $4,900! Once he meets the spending requirements for his new cards, he could go back to earning cash back and eventually get his actual cost to $0 for his week trip.
If you have a Travel Destination question, please feel free to ask and I will answer your questions.