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The best part of the miles and points “game” is when you’re truly able to LEVERAGE your points into much more than you’d pay for cash. I used 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards to transfer to Amtrak to pay for a trip that would have cost me $6500

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That’s a value of about 6.5 cents per point.  Short-haul flights on British Airways are also a good example.  Because flights under 650 miles only cost 4500 Avios, you can get a lot of value that way.  For example, a nonstop one-way flight from my home airport of CVG to New York can often run $300 or more.  But paying 4500 Avios means that each Avios point is saving 6.7 cents per point.

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Flights in red are only 4500 Avios; Flights in green are 7500 Avios one-way

If you’re looking for the absolute maximum “value” for your points, you can’t really get better than international premium cabin airline travel.  In my introductory post on “The Basics” of how to use miles and points, I shared an example of how you could use 42,500 miles to take a flight that would cost you $8,764, which is nearly 21 cents per mile!

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I say “value” in quotation marks, because I don’t feel like that’s really a fair comparison, because nobody I  know would actually pay 9000 dollars for a flight 😀

I’m heading to Europe!

After months of planning, my wife and I are heading to Europe this fall.  Here is our basic itinerary:

  • Cincinnati to Boston: 12,500 Delta Skymiles one-way in economy
  • Boston to Dublin: 25,000 Avios on Aer Lingus one-way in business class.  We booked this before the recent British Airways devaluation; this flight would now cost 37,500 Avios
  • Dublin: 1 day
  • Train from Dublin to Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • British Airways Belfast to London.  This is our “free” domestic connection that used to be allowed with British Airways.  We’re then using our free British Airways stopover (what’s the difference between a stopover, layover, and open jaw?) in London before continuing on
  • 3 days in London
  • British Airways London to Nice, France (measuring in at a cool 647 miles, just under the limit to make it 4500 Avios one-way).  We’re staying at the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée using the free night with the Chase Hyatt card.

    We're staying at the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée

    We’re staying at the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée

  • After a day in Nice / Monaco, we’re flying Vueling, a low-cost carrier from Nice to Rome, and staying 3 days / 2 nights in Rome.  We booked 2 nights at the Radisson Blu Rome before the recent Club Carlson devaluation.  Since we were blowing points, we spent 66,000 points (rather than 44,000) for the “business” award, which includes breakfast, and of course got the 2nd night free.
  • Then we are returning in business class Rome-London-Chicago-Cincinnati, for 50,000 American AAdvantage miles each.  I am hoping that some better space opens up, or a schedule change that allows a direct flight from Rome which will a) be better because it’s nonstop, b) allow another night in Rome and c) save me money because I can pay less UK Air Passenger Duty (it’s not TOO egregious because I only have a layover in London).  I actually had a connection through Dusseldorf and having our overwater flight be on airberlin, but I was waiting for my US Airways miles to combine with my American miles, and had not yet realized how to put an American Airlines award on hold (for free!) for 5 days!

Hotels I’m staying at in Europe

I already mentioned that I’m staying at the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice, France and the Radisson Blu in Rome.  We also have a 2nd free night available from our Chase Hyatt card, and we both have the IHG cards, which means that we can use 2 free nights there as well

(SEE ALSO: Why you should get 2 IHG cards at the same time)

I have a surplus of Hilton points, and Hilton Gold status which gives us free breakfast at Hiltons.  We have looked at the Hilton Park Lane as well as the Morrisson Hilton in Dublin.

If anybody has any suggestions of places to stay, things to do, or other comments, I’d love to hear them!  It’s so hard to strike a balance between wanting to see more places, and wanting to be able to have this vacation be somewhat relaxing!

 

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