Using Miles for Three Days in Paradise — Reader Success Story

Jan 3, 2018

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Erik, who booked flights to the Caribbean with miles from a credit card sign-up bonus. Here’s what he had to say:

Last spring I got the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and scored the 60,000 bonus miles after completing the spending requirements [offer not currently available]. My wife and I then both got the Hyatt Credit Card from Chase to earn two free nights each before that signup bonus was discontinued. I was hoping to use these four free nights for a winter vacation to the Caribbean, and with the top tier Park Hyatt Saint Kitts just opening in November, this was my top choice.

Flights to St. Kitts from my home in Minneapolis don’t seem to drop below $900 round-trip, so I decided to check the award rate using AAdvantage miles. I was surprised to see that seats were available for 15,000 miles each way almost every day of the week from January through March. Those flights all included overnight layovers (in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Charlotte, or even Phoenix), but 30,000 miles round-trip meant I had enough to buy tickets for both of us. We got around 3 cents per mile, which is much more than TPG’s valuation for AAdvantage miles.

Of course, the overnight layovers meant I had to book hotels in Dallas and Charlotte. I could have used Hyatt points or Starpoints, but for such short stays I opted to pay cash for inexpensive rooms. That wasn’t ideal, but one positive note is that we’ll arrive in SKB in the early afternoon and depart in the late afternoon, giving us two decent half days on either end of the three full days in paradise. Not a bad vacation given we spent under $500 on travel expenses for two people!

You
American Airlines has extensive service to the Caribbean, so it’s a great option if you can find MileSAAver award space.

MileSAAver award availability has been notoriously hard to find along many routes — to such an extent that I lowered my valuation for AAdvantage miles in May of 2017 on that basis alone. Fortunately American Airlines pledged to improve low-level award space, and it seems like that pledge is gradually being honored. We’ve seen periods of wide open award space in international business class, and greater availability on domestic flights (even during the holidays). That doesn’t apply to all routes or all dates, but hopefully the trend will continue.

One great feature of the AAdvantage program is that you can generally change your travel dates with no penalty so long as your origin and destination remain the same. That means if Erik wants to shorten his travel time, he can continue to search for MileSAAver availability on flights that don’t involve overnight layovers. Assuming his other travel plans are flexible (and refundable), altering his schedule and routing should be fairly painless.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Erik for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured image by CaraMaria via Getty Images.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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