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summer-vacationI always enjoy reading and writing about real families taking real vacation.  Yes, it’s not quite as “sexy” as reading trip reports of first class flights around the world, but this is real life, people!  One of the reasons I started this blog was to help real families make that vacation happen, or get to take a trip they might not otherwise have been able to afford.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Jennifer, whose family of 5 was trying to take a trip to Greenville SC, but had points in too many different programs

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards from the Sapphire card: Balance: 13,946
  • Southwest Airlines: 18K between the two of us
  • Delta: 3K
  • SPG Starpoints (earned from stays) 40K
  • Amex Starpoints (from CC bonus) Balance: 5,526
  • Amex Membership Rewards from Gold Card: 51, 753

Jennifer’s situation (lots of points in different places) is tricky, since none of her points by themselves were enough to get the 5 roundtrip tickets she needed.

Vacation…. SAVED!

I gave some advice in the original post, and some helpful commenters chimed in as well!  Jennifer wrote in with the results

I took your commenter’s advice and applied for the Sapphire card for my husband. We’re going to put our taxes on it (we’re self employed and always owe a good bit), so that will be 50K in Chase points headed our way very soon.

I loved your advice about using Delta—that seems to be the best way to “convert” all of these random points into flights.

Meanwhile, I DO have a question. I didn’t understand the “award travel” comments about just flying to GSP (rather than our usual deal of flying into ATL and driving up to Greenville, SC). When I plot our trip on and using the “miles” selection for around July 15 through about July 30 or so, the difference in points is HUGE! I am attaching two screenshots showing the difference on Delta. So, I must be doing something wrong?

So she transferred some of her Amex and SPG miles to Delta, which gave her enough to book some of the tickets.  But look at the screenshots she attached!

Even though Delta doesn’t publish an award chart any more, the lowest level for a roundtrip ticket should be 25,000 / person, or 125,000 for the 5 of them.  But to fly to Greenville, Delta wants 325,000 miles!!!

I gave her the suggestion to try 2 things – look for one way tickets, and try to look for only 1 person at a time.  A few hours later, Jennifer reported back:

This is genius! Thank you for the tip to look at one-ways. I think we’re going to make it! I just started the process of transferring all of these points to Delta, and once I have them, this is what I plan to do (hope those award tickets stick around!)
First, 5 Delta one ways DEN to GSP (note we’re flying into GSP! Yay! This will save a few hundred in taxes at the ATL airport for the rental car. Plus, all the grandparents can meet us at the airport which is fun for the kids.)
5 one ways on Delta is about 62.K points. (Our total is 102K).
Then, we come home on 5 one-ways using SWA. But didn’t we only have 18K? We did! Your comment about Chase’s points made me look further and I saw they can be transferred to SWA. So, I did that. Now we have 32K. Add to the new Sapphire and we are loaded with more than 80K SWA points in total, which easily gets us the 5 one-ways at about 66K in points. (Downside: have to get the new Sapphire in the mail, make the purchase that gives us the points and then wait a few weeks for the points to appear.)
Thank you, thank you! I can’t believe we made this happen! I mean, almost. Still need to get these tickets of course. And they may disappear. But I know I can book the Delta one ways in just a day or two once our transfer clears. The SWA award tickets are easier to get, so maybe we’ll still be able to do that.


Vacation…. SAVED!  And not only that, but instead of having to fly into Atlanta, rent a car, and drive 2.5 hours one-way, they get to fly right to where they need to go!  Hooray miles and points!

What’s your best vacation saving miles and points story?

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