Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: A $6,000 Vacation Of A Lifetime For $230

By: Eric August

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

Hey, 10xTravel readers!

My name is Eric August. I’ve been in the miles and points game for a little over a year now, and with the help of Bryce and the 10xTravel team (and other readers) my friend Joe and I were able to take a two week vacation to Australia and New Zealand in November.

I’ll show you how we did it, how much we spent, and how much we would’ve spent, so I hope you enjoy!

Since 2013, Joe and I have taken a trip together just about every year. We began with Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, then Toronto, Canada in 2015, and so when it came time for 2016’s trip, we discovered a crucial difference in our planning: points!

 

Next Stop, Los Angeles

We began our journey at Midway Airport in Chicago. Using my Southwest Companion Pass (and redeeming 17,399 Southwest Rapid Rewards points), we flew from Chicago to Los Angeles for a fun weekend in L.A. before our flight to New Zealand.

Joe rented a Mustang Convertible (utilizing Emerald Status from National), and our luck instantly took a turn for the worse as our rental car was broken into and my passport was stolen.

They didn’t steal my Gameboy color with Pokémon so it wasn’t a total loss.

Not to be deterred, we still enjoyed our weekend in L.A. meeting with friends, somehow getting into secret clubs, and making the most of our vacation (although I could’ve used some Xanax).

Luckily, I applied and was able to receive a new passport on Monday before we left. Continue Reading

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3 Best Ways to Fiji on Points and Miles

By: Luke Sims

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

Hi Travel Junkies,

Whether it’s the white-sand beaches or the world-class snorkeling or the tantalizing cuisine, everyone is dying to get to Fiji – and we’re going to help you get there!

Fiji is the definition of a tropical paradise (I looked it up), but if you’re just now typing it into Google Maps… yeah, it’s way out there. Not to worry, we’ve compiled 3 of the best ways to get there on points and miles.

Sit back, click through a few of those drop-dead gorgeous Fiji beach pics, and let us help you map out your journey to this South Pacific oasis.

Although there are less options for getting to Fiji than some tropical islands (like Hawaii), Fiji Airways offers direct service from the U.S. – making it easier than you might think.

More importantly, Fiji Airways has 3 major airline partnerships – Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and Cathay Pacific – which make finding award availability to Fiji much more possible.

So, check out these 3 options and choose the one that fits your points and miles stash the best.

 

1) Alaska Airlines Miles for Fiji Airways Flights

You can book award tickets on Fiji Airways from Los Angeles to Fiji with Alaska Airlines miles:

  • 40,000 miles one-way between Los Angeles and Fiji in economy
  • 55,000 miles one-way between Los Angeles and Fiji in Business

How to get Alaska Airlines miles:

 Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) is a transfer partner of Alaska Airlines. SPG Starpoints transfer at a 1:1 ratio and points transferred in 20,000 increments will get you an extra 5,000 bonus miles, which means transferring 20,000 SPG points would total 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles. These points generally take a couple days to post to your Alaska Mileage Plan account.

If you want to earn SPG Starpoints, the easiest way is with either business or personal version of the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card.

How to book Fiji Airways award space with Alaska Airlines miles:

Continue Reading

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Let’s talk about the United Debacle (And What to Do if It Happens to You)

Hi Travel Junkies,

By now I am going to assume you have seen the recent video of a man being literally dragged off a United flight from Chicago to Louisville.

Here’s the video for those of you who haven’t.

I was hesitant to even discuss this on the blog, as it has been analyzed to death, but the recent tone-deaf response from United Airlines has prompted me to say something.

First let’s quickly review the details:

  • United Airlines flight 3411 was scheduled to fly from Chicago O’Hare to Louisville on Sunday evening.
  • United claims they had an overbooked situation because they needed to transport 4 crewmembers to Louisville for a flight the next day. Failure to transport the crew could have resulted in future flight delays and cancellations.
  • United offered passengers on the plane $400 vouchers and then $800 vouchers to give up their seats. Nobody volunteered.
  • United claims they “randomly selected” 4 passengers for involuntary denied boarding and asked them to deplane. One of the four passengers selected refused to deplane, saying that he “was a doctor and had patients waiting for him”.
  • United gate agents decided to call the aviation police to assist in removing the man from the plan. Which you see in the above video.
  • The flight eventually departed after a 2 hour delay.

Technically United has the law on their side here. By purchasing a ticket with United you are agreeing to their contract of carriage, which offers them the right to remove passengers at their discretion.

United is then required by law to compensate these displaced passengers depending on the length of their delay and the price of their ticket.

The reason things got so out of hand in this case is because all of the passengers had already boarded the plane. So rather than simply preventing passengers from boarding, United had to physically remove some of them from the plane. Which is never a good look.

United also claims to have rules against offering more than $800 in compensation in exchange for bumping from your flight. Which was certainly a factor here as well. Certainly someone would have volunteered when the offer went to $1,000+.

 

What to Do If This Happens to You

10xT Contributor Luke Sims recently dealt with this situation when his wife was denied boarding on a flight home to New York City.

You can check out his article here for more information on how to handle this situation.

Put simply, when you find yourself in this situation you need to 1) not voluntarily accept being denied boarding and 2) comply with any crewmember instructions.

By doing these two things you will (hopefully) prevent yourself from being physically harmed and remain eligible for compensation from the airline.

You can also protect yourself by using a card such as Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay for your airfare, which offers trip interruption insurance for situations just like this.

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Here’s to hoping this man is properly compensated by United for the physical harm and embarrassment he was subjected to. And here’s to hoping United learns from this incident and gets back to helping their customers “fly the friendly skies”.

 

Happy Travels,

Bryce

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American Express Platinum Card Major Changes

By: Travis Cormier

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

The Platinum Card by American Express has been a hot topic since the benefits and annual fee changed about a week ago. Many of you often ask if it is a good time to get the card. Especially since you can only get the sign-up bonus for this card once per lifetime!

If you’re looking to apply soon, be aware that Amex has announced some major changes to this card. Make sure you consider whether the changes to the card make it a good choice for you at this time.

Let’s dive into these changes so you can get a lay of the land.

 

Increased Annual Fee

Let’s be honest, when you think about signing up for a new card, you want to know the annual fee. You want to be sure the annual fee is worth it, and with the new increase, that’s something to consider.

In the past, the Amex Platinum card had an annual fee of $450 which is comparable to other high-end cards. That’s no longer the case as American Express has decided to increase it to $550 per year.

If you are an existing card-member, you may get the $450 for another year. If your annual fee posts before September, it will only be $450.

New card-members and those whose annual fee posts in September and beyond will pay the increased annual fee. Either way, you can start taking advantage of the new benefits now.

 

Uber Ride (or Dine!) Credits & VIP Status

To help offset the increased annual fee, you’ll receive $200 in Uber credits each calendar year and complimentary Uber VIP Status. Continue Reading

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5 Awesome Ways to Use SPG Starpoints

By: Travis Cormier

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

SPG Starpoints are considered one of the most valuable point currencies on the market today. From amazing hotel redemptions to some fun airline transfer partners, SPG Starpoints provide you with the flexibility to book whatever you need for your trip.

With the Starwood and Marriott merger the program is only guaranteed to last through the end of 2017. Here at 10xTravel, we are certainly hoping Marriott will maintain the SPG Starpoints program in the future, but just in case they don’t, let’s check out some great ways to use those SPG Starpoints now.

 

1) Emirates First Class through Japan Airlines Mileage Bank

One of the most raved about redemption option with SPG Starpoints is Emirates first class, without a doubt. SPG Starpoints transfer to most of their airline partners at a 1:1 ratio, however transfers to airlines provide a unique opportunity to earn bonus miles.

For every 20,000 SPG Starpoints you transfer, you will receive an additional 5,000 airline miles. Thanks to this feature, you can earn your Emirates first class flight that much quicker.

Keep in mind, you can only transfer 60,000 SPG Starpoints to a partner airline per day and receive the 5,000 mile bonus on each 20,000 point chunk. You will not receive the 5,000 mile bonus if you transfer another 20,000 points.

Now that you have a little background on how SPG Starpoints transfer, let’s get into the best way to book your Emirates first class!

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank. Bet you weren’t expecting that! Unlike many award charts, Japan Airlines uses a distance based award chart for partners. Remember to add the distance of each segment to determine how many Mileage Bank miles will be required. Continue Reading

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Introducing the Newest Members of the 10xT Team!

Happy Friday Travel Junkies,

Today we are proud to announce the addition of three new members to the 10xT Team! Each of these incredibly talented individuals will be helping to create content for the blog as well as assisting with answering reader questions via email and social media.

I wanted to let each of them take a moment to introduce themselves. Here’s what each of them have to say, in their own words:

 

Jeff Brownson

Miles and points have taken Jeff to 39 countries, flying in first class, business class, and sometimes even in coach. Whether he’s staying in a hostel dorm, or in a luxury suite at a 5 star hotel, Jeff is constantly looking for the best deal to make travel as close to free as possible. A background in math and science provides the analytical basis necessary to manage more than 80 loyalty accounts for his family, with millions of points at his disposal for booking. Jeff holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is a contributor to TravelingDad, and has been a featured speaker at the Chicago Seminars and Family Travel for Real Life Conferences.

 

Julie Szpira

I love to travel, but I don’t like to spend money, so learning how to maximize points and miles made sense to help me achieve my travel goals. My favorite part of knowing about using points and miles is helping friends and family book vacations that would have cost thousands of dollars for a fraction of that cost.

I don’t really know.  I like crocheting, regularly drink whole bottles of wine, care way too much about college football, watch all the reality TV shows on the Bravo Network and am always planning my next vacation.  I always find “about me’s” so weird.

 

Travis Cormier

Travis HammockMy name is Travis and I started collecting points about a year ago to get my fiancee and myself to the Maldives for our honeymoon. In that time I’ve collected almost 2,000,000 points, and counting! I love using points to travel to destinations that have gotten many people to ask me “how do you afford to travel so much?” I love helping friends and family get points and realize their travel dreams. I hope I can help you make your dream trips come true!

 

Happy Travels,

Bryce

P.S. We are finalizing details for the first ever 10xT Reader Meetup and it’s going to be incredible. Stay tuned for more details.

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Increased Sign-up Bonus Ends Next Week, Get Your 35,000 SPG Starpoints Now

By: Bryce Conway

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

Hi Travel Junkies,

Just a heads up, next Wednesday (April 5) is the last day to apply for the the American Express Starwood cards and receive their limited time offer of 35,000 bonus Starpoints.

NOTE: This bonus is no longer active as of April 5th, 2017.

The standard offer on these cards is only 25,000 bonus points, so the 35,000 bonus Starpoints is a fantastic opportunity to earn a large chunk of this valuable rewards currency.

Here are the details of the offer for the personal version of the card:

  • Earn 25,000 SPG Starpoints after spending $3,000 in the first three months with the card
  • Earn 10,000 SPG Starpoints after spending an additional $2,000
  • $95 annual fee is waived for the first year
  • 5 nights and 2 stay credits toward elite status
  • Earn SPG Gold status when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year
  • Offer expires April 5, 2017

The business version is slightly different:

  • Earn 25,000 SPG Starpoints after spending $5,000 in the first three months with the card
  • Earn 10,000 SPG Starpoints after spending an additional $3,000
  • $95 annual fee is waived for the first year
  • 5 nights and 2 stay credits toward elite status
  • Earn SPG Gold status when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year
  • Sheraton Club Lounge Access
  • Offer expires April 5, 2017

The Amex Starwood cards have been a 10xT favorite for a very long time because of their ability to score some amazing hotel deals or be transferred to more than a dozen airline partners. As an added bonus, you receive a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 SPG Starpoints transferred to partner airlines.

Personally, I have been spending most of my SPG Starpoints on high-end hotel bookings in Europe lately. Those private balconies and multi-room suites just can’t be beat.

Continue Reading

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How to Get Your Real Credit Score (Without Having to Pay for It)

By: Spencer Howard

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

Not a day goes by that we don’t get questions about credit scores. Sometimes it’s as simple as someone wondering where to find their credit score, other times it’s a momentary freak out when a reader looks at Credit Karma and sees their score has dropped.

To prevent these freakouts and make it easier for you to find your credit score, we’re going to discuss where you can find your credit score. Not an estimated FICO score, but your actual FICO score. This is what you really need to know.

 

Does Credit Karma Actually Provide Your FICO Credit Score?

Let’s just get this out of the way now: NO!!!

Credit Karma provides a VantageScore which is not a commonly used score for credit card applications. We have found that the score it provides can vary by 50+ points compared to a true FICO score.

It seems to be very sensitive to credit utilization, which is what causes such anguish for readers who rely on Credit Karma. They see a huge drop and, understandably, are not pleased.

It is because of situations like this that we felt it was necessary to address Credit Karma.

Now, that does not mean Credit Karma isn’t a useful for a miles and points connoisseur like you. Credit Karma is a big help if you want to see credit card inquiries on your Equifax and TransUnion reports. Additionally, you can see what open accounts you have reporting to each credit bureau.

This can be particularly helpful if you are unsure of your 5/24 status with Chase.

 

Get Your Actual FICO Score

There are several free ways to get your actual FICO score from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

FICO

Let’s start with Experian, as you don’t even need a credit card to get your FICO score from Discover through their Free Credit Scorecard. The scorecard provides your true Experian FICO credit score as well as a bunch of other great information including: total accounts, length of credit, inquiries, utilization, and missed payments.

Continue Reading

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5 Best Ways to Fly to Hawaii Using Points

By: Luke Sims

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

Hi Travel Junkies,

Hawaii is that dream destination on your bucket list that feels more like a fantasy than a possibility. You lean back in your chair at the office, close your eyes and picture yourself sipping a Mai Tai with the ocean breeze gently passing through your half-buttoned Hawaiian shirt.

You then snap back to reality when you realize it’s a billion miles away (I measured) and in the middle of the ocean… there can’t be an affordable way to get there.

At 10xTravel, we are determined to make Hawaii a reality for you. Today, I want to share with you five of the best ways to use points and miles to fly to Hawaii.

Bali Hai from Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

 

1) Korean Air SKYPASS Miles For Delta Flights

You can book a round-trip economy flight on Delta, from anywhere in the United States to any of the four major Hawaiian islands, for 25,000 Korean Air SKYPASS miles.

Korean Air does not fly from the US to Hawaii, so they rely on their Skyteam Partner, Delta, to service their customers. Although Delta prices its lowest award flights to Hawaii at 45,000 for roundtrip in economy and 90,000 for round-trip in first class, you can book the exact same Delta flights using 25,000 Korean Air SKYPASS miles in economy and 45,000 Korean Air SKYPASS miles in first class. I think the correct term for this is, “BOOYA”.

How to get Korean SKYPASS miles

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Starwood Preferred Guest points at a 1:1 ratio to Korean SKYPASS miles. SPG points transferred in 20,000 increments will earn you an extra 5,000 bonus miles, which means transferring 20,000 SPG points would equal 25,000 SKYPASS miles. Continue Reading

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How to Use Balance Transfer Cards to Eliminate Credit Card Debt

By: Bryce Conway

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

It’s no secret that we here at 10xTravel are big fans of earning points and miles through the responsible use of credit cards. These rewards are essentially “free money” that is given to you just for using a particular credit card.

And, in our little 10xTravel fantasy world everyone uses rewards credit cards responsibly, pays their bills in full each month, and never pays a dime of interest to credit card companies. Getting all the positives out of using credit cards with none of the drawbacks.

But the reality is that many credit card users do not behave that way. According to Nerd Wallet, slightly under half of US households have credit card debt. Of those that do, the average outstanding balance was $16,747.

This adds up to an average of about $1,300 per year in interest charges alone. Ouch!

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, this issue can be solved with a somewhat counterintuitive solution; more credit cards.

Specifically, a type of card called a balance transfer card. Let’s talk about how they work.

Credit Cards Balance Transfer

How do Balance Transfer Cards Work?

Balance transfer cards do exactly what their name implies, they allow you to transfer balances from other credit cards to your new balance transfer card. The idea being that you transfer balances from cards with higher interest rates to a new card with a low or 0% interest rate.

Once transferred, you will typically be given about 12-15 months of low or no interest on your new balance. Which (in theory) allows you to pay off your debt faster and with less money lost to interest expense.

So what’s the catch? Continue Reading