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I got an email from friend and reader Brandon who wanted some advice about the best credit cards to signup for to help get his family of 7 from Portland to New York City. You remember Brandon from our county roadtrip to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Manitoba, North Dakota and Ontario a few months ago.
(SEE ALSO: Roadtrip rule #1 – if you see a giant animal statue on the side of the road… )
Brandon is already doing several things right – namely, he has a destination in mind before just signing up for credit cards, and he is leaving himself plenty of flexibility (looking at this as a potential 2019 trip). Brandon is currently at 4/24 (so would need to sign up for a Chase card first if he wanted one at all) and his wife is at 1/24.
Best airline credit cards to get for a NYC trip
No matter which airline Brandon and his family fly, they are going to need somewhere around ~200K airline miles to fly the 7 of them roundtrip. This is likely going to take a variety of credit card signups for both Brandon and his wife #largefamilyproblems.
Flying out of Portland, my first thought would be Alaska Airlines. They have a (mini?) hub in Portland, and fly directly to both Newark and JFK. Using Alaska miles you could also fly on American Airlines (but not Delta anymore). The Alaska card is also (for now) fairly churnable, meaning that Brandon and his wife could both sign up for Alaska cards every 90 days or so (though it’s not clear if this is still working for people or if it will work going forward)
You can ALSO get a stopover using Alaska miles even on a one-way, so something like this would be a valid itinerary with Alaska miles
- PDX-NYC (stopover) – Washington (destination) – 12,500 miles per person
- WAS-PDX (stopover) – LAX (or anywhere) – destination – 12,500 miles per person
That would be visiting 2 cities on this 2019 trip, then taking a “stopover” in their home city of Portland before tacking on a free one-way to anywhere in the continental US as a future trip.
(SEE ALSO: Layover, Stopover, Open Jaw: What are they and what’s the difference)
Another option would be if Brandon and his wife both applied for the increased signups on the American Express Delta cards. Those are both currently at 60,000 Delta Skymiles, which, with the spending to meet the signup bonus would give him 125,000 Skymiles – likely enough for 9 one way tickets (of course he only needs 7, so the other 2 could be for a different trip)
It’s certainly possible to use one type of miles (Alaska) to go one way and a different type of miles (Delta) to return to Portland. Brandon could also get a card that gives transferable points like one that gives American Express Membership Rewards or SPG points (that transfer to airlines)
(SEE ALSO: Top credit card offers)
(SEE ALSO: Three SPG transfer partner you do NOT want to use)
Best hotel and other credit cards to get to go to New York
For hotels, my recommendation would be to get points / free nights in a variety of hotels. Depending on the stay and how many rooms Brandon and his family require, cards that offer free nights might be a good option
(SEE ALSO: Why you should get 2 IHG cards at the same time)
Hotels like Marriott Residence Inn, Hilton Homewood Suites, IHG Staybridge Suites or other hotels that give free dinner would be extra attractive, since 7 breakfasts and 7 dinners is a big cost savings!
I believe Brandon already signed his wife up for one of the American Express Hilton cards with their all-time bonuses of 80,000 or 100,000 points (expiring 5/31/2017)
Another option would be to sign up for something like the Capital One(R) Venture(R) Rewards Credit Card or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card – something that would give “cash” points to offset things like rental car charges, subway fare, or other incidentals that can’t be covered by hotel miles and points.
Readers – any other thoughts?
Now it’s time to turn it over to you faithful readers. Any other suggestions for Brandon and his family?
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I would check into AirBnB for lodging. Using points to book two rooms is going to be pretty high in the city and not guaranteed to be connecting rooms still.
With that large a crew, the best bet for hotel is AirBnB.
I would totally go with multiple Chase & Amex cards, transfer points for coach tix.
However the greatest strength to me of flexible points, is not in round trips. It’s the ability to put together one-way segments so you can do bounce around and not worry shackle yourself to the “return ticket”, even of the “open jaw” variety. We fly to Europe in a few weeks one-way on Delta to London. We’ll bounce around in Europe and later return from Rome to another city in the US on a different airline.
For a simple domestic round trip, I’d be inclined to just pay for it. Although I’d pay some with various travel GC at an office supply using Chase Ink for 5x points.
Conrad in downtown is the best hotel for a large family since the rooms are suites and have plenty of room. Easy to book with points and not that expensive on weekends ($200) too. Can be pricey during the week.
Dan, have you stayed in any NYC hotels that have had reasonable prices (points or cash) on 2 BR suites?
The only hotel I’ve stayed at was the Sheraton Times Square but that was not on a 2BR suite
Hubby and I have used our annual IHG “free nights” at the Intercontinental. If they each get a card at the same time, and their timing is right, they can use two years’ free nights consecutively.
There are decent 3 star hotels around 36th St – Wyndham, Hyatt Place, Holiday Inn Express. Since Wyndhams are always 15,000 pts, it shouldn’t be too hard to generate enough points for a few nights.
One of my favorites though is the Sheraton Times Square – a real bargain at 12,000 pts/night (9600 pts/night if you stay 5 nights). They could get sign-up bonuses for SPG cards, Marriott cards (or Chase cards with transferable pts), Amex MR pts cards. If they get business SPG cards, they get access to the lounge for free breakfast and happy hour appetizers.
I love this post and am looking at it for information. I have a family of 7 too and it is hard to figure out ways to do things.
Having that many points for a roundtrip domestic trip seems high. We have done ORD to Calgary on Delta for 19k for roundtrip coach for all 7 of us.
And ORD to Copenhagen via Chase Rewards for 167k for all of us.
The Element Harrison in Harrison, NJ has 2br suites with all the family-friendly extended stay bonuses – laundry, free breakfast, evening snacks, free wifi, kitchenette. It’s right next to the PATH train to Penn Station, you can be in Manhattan in 20 minutes. About $250/night or 12,000 Starwood points.
That’s a great tip – also remember you can transfer 3:1 from Marriott to Starwood so Chase or Marriott cards would be good in addition to the Starwood cards.