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Hawaii is a destination that is high up the list for most people. I haven’t been to Hawaii since I was 6 years old, so it was time to book a guys’ trip to Honolulu to see the sites and visit some old friends. Using miles and points made it all possible for $262 for the 3 of us — that’s about $87 a person!
Flying to Hawaii from Los Angeles using Avios
This is an example of using one airline’s miles and points to book on a partner airline to save HUGE amounts of money for not a lot of points.
British Airways’ Avios is a distance-based program. From Los Angeles to Hawaii is 12,500 each way per person, plus normal taxes and fees. You can calculate the estimate points redemption between two cities using the British Airways Reward Flight Calculator. Keep in mind that British Airways charges points per leg of your journey, so you mostly want to book non-stop flights. For example, if you fly from LA to Miami, but stop in Dallas, you will be charged for two flights… LA to Dallas AND Dallas to Miami. It still may be cheaper in miles than other award program options, but keep that in mind.
British Airways doesn’t fly to Hawaii, but their partner American Airlines does. I logged into my Avios account in December 2015 and redeemed directly online for our flights in March 2016. Super easy! Our flight was 25,000 miles round-trip and $11.20 ($5.60 each way for US taxes) per person, for a total of 75,000 miles and $33.60.
If we used American Airlines AAdvantage miles to redeem for the same flights, it would have cost at least 35,000 miles per person, round-trip, for a total of 105,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. We are traveling during off-peak times, so award redemptions are cheaper. If we were traveling at other times of the year, you’re looking at 35,000 miles EACH WAY on American!
The lesson here is that it can be better to redeem a partner’s miles for a flight rather than booking directly with the airline you plan on flying. Because we used British Airways’ Avios to book our tickets, we used 75,000 points rather than 105,000 AA miles, for a savings of 30,000 AA miles. That savings is enough miles to book a domestic ticket anywhere in the US!!!
Saving money on a car rental with Costco Travel
I was looking to book a rental car for our week in Hawaii. Hotwire had some options for as low as $247. I tried several bids on Priceline below that amount, but my patience grew thin as the bid increases towards the Hotwire price and still couldn’t get a bid approved.
So, I went to Costco Travel to see what options were available. In a couple of minutes, I was able to save $19 compared to Hotwire’s lowest price AND get upgraded to a bigger car (Full Size).
Because Timmy was traveling with us, and we needed a car seat. The Costco Travel reservation with Alamo would have charged $60 for the week to rent a carseat. However, American Airlines didn’t charge for checking his car seat bag, so there was no $25 bag fee. This saved us another $60!!!
We use the J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack Padded Car Seat Travel Bag to carry our car seats. The bag is so big, that it also has extra room inside to put extra clothes, diapers, and other necessary items. We like it because it has straps like a backpack, so that it’s easy to carry.
If we were to buy again, we would spend a few extra bucks and buy the version with wheels. After carrying my backpack, usually carrying Timmy on my shoulders, and trying to help Anna carry her stuff… adding a car seat backpack is enough to make anyone sweat!
Using points at Marriott Ko’Olina Beach Resort
My buddy David had built up his Marriott points through credit card offers, stays at the hotel, and spending on his credit cards. Rather than redeeming directly for a hotel room, he used the Marriott Flight + Hotel packages to redeem his points for airline miles AND a week at a Marriott.
Initially, he redeemed 330,000 Marriott points for 120,000 American Airlines’ miles AND a week at any Marriott Category 7 hotel. The AA miles posted to his account immediately for his trip to Rome, Italy over Easter 2015. The Marriott week was good to use for 1 year from the date he ordered it. Later, as we were looking at hotels in Honolulu, he used another 30,000 Marriott points to upgrade his 1-week certificate to open Category 8 properties.
It sounds like a lot of miles and points (which it is), but he essentially got a FREE week at Marriott for his conversion to American Airlines’ miles. Marriott allows you to convert Marriott points into airline miles. To receive 125k AA miles, it would have cost 350,000 Marriott points.
If we were to pay cash for this hotel room, it would have been at least $199 a night (plus taxes). Rates in the summer go up to as high as $489 a night!!!
To redeem using Marriott points, the room would have been 240,000 points plus $50 to $150 per day, based on the type of room we booked.
By using airline miles and hotel points, we were able to significantly reduce the cost of travel to Hawaii. We took a vacation that would have easily cost $4,000 and whittled the cost down to $262!!!
If you’d like a FREE phone call to learn how to reduce the cost of your travel using airline miles and hotel points, please submit a request for free travel advice, and I will get back with you to schedule our call.