Monthly Archives

April 2018


Amazing Places To Visit With The Southwest Companion Pass

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

By: Travis Cormier

Many of you have already earned the Southwest Companion Pass for 2018 (and possibly 2019 as well). Unfortunately, it will be harder to earn in the future since Chase restricted the bonus on personal cards to one every 24 months. If you have the Companion Pass, now is the time to get the most value possible out of it.

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some of awesome destinations you can get to using the Companion Pass.


Aruba is one of my favorite Caribbean destinations. The resort area runs up and down the west coast of this small island nation and the water is extremely calm. I recommend Aruba to all of my friends with small children, because the calm ocean helps make it a great family friendly destination.

If you’re an adventurous traveler, Aruba also has plenty of adventure for you too. When I visited last year I rented a motorcycle and road along the desert sands of the west coast, and explored the caverns and natural pools (not for the faint of heart to get there!) in Aruba’s Arikok National Park.

Use Your Companion Pass to Explore the Caves of Aruba’s National Park

Southwest flies nonstop to Aruba from 3 U.S. cities:

  • Baltimore/Washington (BWI)
  • Ft. Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Houston Hobby (HOU)

From HOU and BWI , typical rates are around 26,000 Rapid Rewards points and $75 in taxes and fees per person. The best deal I’ve found is from FLL, where prices are as low as 14,500 Rapid Rewards points and $75 in taxes and fees. With the Companion Pass, that means you and your companion can take fly to Aruba for only 14,500 points and $150 in taxes and fees!

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The Calm Waters of Aruba are Great for Families

I know not everyone lives in these three cities – and they’re pretty popular Southwest hubs – so let’s explore some connecting options.

If you’re trying to fly from Denver, you will pay a little bit more in Rapid Rewards points, but with the Companion Pass you’re still getting an amazing deal. You can travel round-trip for as low as 40,000 Rapid Rewards points and $75 in taxes and fees. Although it seems like a lot initially, breaking it down you quickly realize that is only 20,000 Rapid Rewards and $75 per person to get to one of the farthest and hardest to reach Caribbean vacation spots. Continue Reading


What is a Cash + Points Hotel Booking?

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

By: Julie Szpira

When you are ready to use your points to travel, the number of options for booking can be overwhelming. Should you use one of the credit card portals? Use points? Use a discount rate?

One booking option people might not be familiar with is the Points + Cash option provided by many chain hotels. This option allows you to redeem points from your account in combination with a cash co-pay. This can be tremendously useful if you are short on points, but want to book an award stay.

Fixed Value Points + Cash Rates

World of Hyatt and Starwood Preferred Guest offer fixed Points + Cash rates, based on the hotel category.

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World of Hyatt Points and Points+Cash rates

The cash + points rate at Hyatt and Starwood hotels allows you to “buy” points for a set rate. For example, at a Hyatt Category 4 hotel, you would use 15,000 points, or use 7,500 points, and “buy” the other 7,500 points for a cash rate of $100 USD.  That would mean that you are buying your points at a rate of 1.33 cpp.

This is calculated by dividing the amount of the cash co-pay by the number of points saved by using cash. For a Hyatt Category 4, the calculation would be $100 USD / 7,500 points = 1.33 cpp.

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Starwood Preferred Guest Points + Cash Rates

Continue Reading


How to Meet Chase Freedom’s Q2 5X Spend

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

By: Caroline Lupini

The Chase Freedom—no-annual-fee—is attractive to many miles and points enthusiasts because of its quarterly bonus categories. For each quarter of the year, Chase announces categories that will earn 5% cash back on up to $1500 in purchases.

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This “cash back” is actually provided in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, meaning you get 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent—if you also have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred, you can combine your Ultimate Rewards points and transfer them to airline partners. You can learn about these cards and more by visiting our credit cards page.

This also works if you happen to have one of the no-longer-available business cards – the Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Bold.

If you maximize the bonus categories every quarter, you’ll earn 30,000 points per year—$450 towards travel purchases if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve or 30,000 points to transfer to airlines such as United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways or Korean Air.

Very important: these bonus categories are not automatic, so you must manually activate them. You have until about two weeks before the end of the quarter to register. As long as you register before the deadline, you will receive bonus points for all transactions made during the quarter—even ones made before you registered. Continue Reading


Chase Sapphire Reserve: Everything You Need To Know

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

By: Caroline Lupini

Chase really shook up the premium credit card landscape when they launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. It’s a direct competitor to The Platinum Card from American Express and the Citi Prestige Card.

If you’re a member of the 10xTravel Insiders Facebook group, you’ve probably noticed that tons of people have made this card has earned a place in many wallets.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a 10xT favorite!

The Basics

  • Earning: 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and dining, 1X on  everything else
  • Current sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months
  • Key benefits: annual $300 travel credit, Global entry fee credit, Priority Pass Select membership (unlimited guests), premium travel benefits and protection, no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Authorized user fee: $75 per authorized user

Learn more about the full offer details here.

Bonus Categories

  • Earn 3X points on travel worldwide from airfare and hotels to taxis to trains (and more)
  • Earn 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide from fast casual to fine dining
  • Earn 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The earning structure for the Chase Sapphire Reserve makes it a great card for frequent travelers and people who like to dine out regularly. This combination of 3X on travel and dining is unmatched and can even be improved when paired with the Chase Freedom (rotating quarterly 5X categories) and Freedom Unlimited (1.5X on everything) cards.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3x on all travel purchases

Redeem Your Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are, of course, best used for travel. One of the key benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that each point is worth 1.5 cents towards travel when redeemed directly through the Chase travel portal.

When you redeem your points this way, you’ll always know exactly what you’re getting for your points. Better yet, flights booked will still earn miles.

This is a great redemption option when flight prices are low. For example, JetBlue regularly has transcontinental Mint Business class flights on sale for $399 each way, which would only require 26,600 Chase Ultimate Rewards points – and you’ll earn JetBlue points!

You can use points earned from Sapphire Reserve to book JetBlue Mint. Image courtesy of

Assuming you could find availability, United would charge 25,000 miles (which can be transferred from Ultimate Rewards) for the same flight itinerary, but United’s transcontinental flights generally aren’t thought to be as nice as JetBlue’s and you won’t earn miles when you fly.

Even better redemptions can usually be achieved with Chase’s numerous airline and hotel transfer partners:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Iberia Plus
  • Korean Air SkyPass
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

On the hotel side, you can transfer to:

  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards
  • World of Hyatt

Continue Reading


The Marriott/Starwood Merger: What You Need to Know (And What You Should Be Doing Right Now)

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

By: Bryce Conway, Founder of

Hi Travel Junkies,

Yesterday Marriott announced the details of their new combined loyalty program with Starwood Preferred Guest and the changes were surprisingly not terrible.

I’ll leave all the nitty-gritty details to the dozens of other outlets that covered them and skip right to the good stuff; How the changes impact you and what you should be doing right now as a result of them.

Let’s get started:

How the Changes Impact You:

1) The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card is going to lose value as a day-to-day spending option

Perhaps the worst news from yesterday is the fact that the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, a staple in the wallet of any points fanatic, is about to lose a lot of value on August 1 when it comes to non-bonus category spending rewards.

This is due to the fact that this card will now earn 2x Marriott points per $1 on all non-category purchases, which is a 33% devaluation from its previous ability to earn 1x on everything and then transfer those points to Marriott at a rate of 1:3 (effectively earning 3 Marriott points per $1 spent).

The Business version of this credit card also was stripped of its Sheraton club access, a perk that many (including myself) use to justify keeping it year after year.

The silver lining is that the Starwood Business card will now earn 4x points on restaurant, gas station, phone, and shipping services.

Oh, and American Express will be launching a new premium Starwood Credit Card  in August that comes with a $450 fee and all the usual premium card benefits. We are not sure if this card will be offering a limited time offer to sign up, but here’s to hoping.

(My guess is that it will)

2) Airline Transfers remain relatively unchanged

This was easily the biggest surprise in my book. I fully expected Marriott to take a hatchet to the airline transfer partners and they ended up changing virtually nothing.

The new program will retain all the current SPG transfer partners as well as add 10 more (though many of the 10 already were available with Marriott).

The numbers change a bit but the ratios do not. Marriott points can transfer 3 to 1 to participating airline programs with a 15,000 point bonus for every 60,000 points transferred. This is just the current Starwood transfer rate (1:1, 5k bonus per 20k transferred) multiplied by 3 to account for the new conversion rate.

Speaking of the conversion rate….

3) All of Your Starpoints will be converted to Marriott Points on August 1 at a rate of 1 Starpoint > 3 Marriott Points

This is more of an FYI than anything. 1 Starpoint to 3 Marriott points has been the conversion rate since Marriott acquired Starwood anyway. And overall it is a very fair exchange in my book.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Marriott didn’t take the opportunity to devalue Starpoints and leave no time for members to transfer them beforehand.

So what should you be doing in response to these changes? Let’s talk about that for a moment. Continue Reading


New Priority Pass Benefit: Airport Restaurants

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

By: Travis Cormier

Hey Travel Junkies,

If you’ve been around the points and miles game for awhile, you’ve surely heard of Priority Pass. For the uninitiated, a Priority Pass Select membership grants you access to thousands of airport lounges across the world for free.

Many credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offer a Priority Pass Select membership as a benefit.

To help expand the benefits for its members, Priority Pass has added restaurants to its list. Let’s look at how and where this new benefit works so you can start getting even more value from your membership.

How to Use Priority Pass at Restaurants

Using your Priority Pass benefit at restaurants is easy. Just present your card when you are seated, before you place your order, and the credit will be applied automatically to your bill.

The credit is roughly $28 per guest in at U.S. airports and similar at airports abroad. This is enough to get you a meal, a drink and maybe a bit more. The number of guests who qualify for the benefit varies depending on which credit card provides your membership. Below is a table that shows how many guests you receive based on which credit card has given you Priority Pass Membership. Continue Reading


How To Earn The Last Few Points For The Southwest Companion Pass

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

By: John Tunningley

While it is now a little harder to get the companion pass due to the new rules on Southwest personal cards (Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card). It is still possible to get the companion pass or get close to the companion pass by getting the Southwest Business Card and one of the two Southwest personal cards.

If you’ve managed to sign up for the bonus offers when at least one is at 60,000 Rapid Rewards points and another is at 50,000 points, and you’ve met the minimum spending requirements then congratulations, you’ve officially earned the Southwest Companion Pass and you can start booking flights for you and your companion.

However many of you sign up when the offers are a little lower so you’re likely about 6,000 points short if you signed up during the 50,000 point bonus or up to 26,000 short if you decided to sign up during the 40,000 point bonuses (don’t do this). This is of course assuming you’ve met the minimum spend and earned at least 2,000 points per card while doing this.

So let’s look at a few ways you can earn those last few thousand points to get you to the glory that is the Southwest Companion Pass.

Flying Southwest

You can earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points the old fashioned way by simply flying with Southwest. You get miles for every flight and you can boost these earnings by booking “Anytime” or “Business Select” fares—of course, you’ll pay more. Anytime fares earn 10x the fare and Business Select earns 12x the fare while “Wanna Get Away” fares only earn 6x the fare.

This means that if you book and fly an $500 fare or $500 worth of flights (before taxes and fees) in Business Select you can make up those last 6,000 points. This is doable if you fly often, especially if you’re using one of your Southwest cards to book. Getting the extra 2X points per dollar using a Southwest Credit Card means you would only have to spend $429 on Business Select fares to make up those last 6,000 points.

If you have 26,000 points to make up it would be a little harder as you would need to book over $2,000 worth of tickets to get the points needed for the Companion Pass. While alone this may be a lot it can easily be combined with other methods below to help you get over the 110,000 Rapid Reward threshold.

Putting All Your Spend On A Southwest Card

Another way to earn those last few thousand points is to put all of your spending on one of your Southwest cards. While this may be feasible for those of you trying to get 6,000 points it’s a lot of spend to put on a card if you need to earn 26,000 points—especially when you consider that you could be putting that toward a new sign-up bonus or on a card with bonus categories.

However, if you’re going to be using the Companion Pass extensively, it might be worth shifting your spend to this card for awhile.

Use the Southwest Shopping Portal

Like many other points programs, Southwest Rapid Rewards has its own shopping portal and thee points earned through the shopping portal count towards the Companion Pass. Popular merchants like Harry’s razors (9X points per dollar), Proactiv (11X points per dollar), Stitch Fix (20X points per dollar) and New Balance (5X points per dollar) all offer great ways to earn extra points.

There are also a variety of other stores offering lower rates but that still might be useful like 2X points per dollar on Groupon purchases, 1X point per dollar Home Depot, Microsoft and Apple.

Refer Friends to the Chase Southwest Cards

Chase often includes Southwest cards in the refer-a-friend program. You can earn 10,000 Rapid Rewards points for each friend you refer (and is approved). This is true on both cards so you can get refer a friend to both cards to help both you and a friend get the companion pass.

Keep Your Eyes Open for Special Deals

During holidays, Southwest often has special bonuses through the shopping portal. Earlier this year I sent my girlfriend flowers for Valentine’s Day from 1-800-Flowers and received 1,750 Rapid Reward points.

Not only did I score some major Southwest Rapid Reward points towards the Companion Pass, but I scored some points with my girlfriend. It’s something that I likely would have done anyway but the extra money I spent to have the flowers sent rather than buying them myself was more than worth earning the extra Rapid Rewards points toward the Companion Pass.

Book Hotels Through Southwest

When booking hotels through the Southwest Hotels website you can earn up to 10,000 points per night. While this is proudly displayed on the front page and, in many popular locations, there are a few hotels that offer 3,000-5,000 Rapid Rewards points per night, however most simply offer 1 point per dollar. If you find yourself traveling, it’s at least worth taking a look at what Southwest Hotels has to offer and if Southwest Hotels fails you you can also try Rocketmiles which could earn you some Rapid Rewards points as well.

In addition to the Southwest Hotels portal and Rocketmiles, Southwest has partnerships with many other hotels including Best Western, Radisson, Choice Hotels, Hyatt, LaQuinta, Marriott, MGM and SPG. These partnerships allow you to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points instead of hotel points however obtaining points this way isn’t advised as none of the points transfer 1:1 except SPG which are almost always worth more as SPG points than they are as Southwest points.

Pay Your Power Bill

If you happen to be lucky enough to be in an area served by NRG, Everything Energy, or Reliant you can earn anywhere between 5,00 and 15,000 points just for switching over your power supplier and additional points for every month or dollar you stay with the company. While this clearly isn’t for everyone and is pretty limited in its coverage area it may be worth looking into if you’ve been thinking about switching your power company.

Book Rental Cars Through Southwest

When you book car rentals through the Southwest website you can earn up to 2,400 points plus get additional discounts. Southwest partners with most major car rental agencies including National, Alamo, Payless, Avis, Hertz, Budget, Thrifty and Dollar with many of them giving at least a 10% discount and points based on the length or cost of the rental.

This can be a great way to earn those final points without having to go out of your way and also allow you to get a discount while you’re at it.

Final Thoughts

While getting the initial sign-up bonuses can be exciting and get you incredibly close to meeting the 110,000 Rapid Rewards points required for the Southwest Companion Pass, getting those last few points can be a frustrating process if you don’t know some tricks to boost your earning.

Using a variety of the methods outlined above you can get to 110,000 Rapid Rewards points and start enjoying the perks of the Southwest Companion pass on every trip!

Keep Traveling,



Five Credit Cards That Are Newbie Traps

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

By: Julie Szpira

If you are new to the points and miles hobby, it can be difficult to figure out how to get started in the game. There are advertisements for many different credit cards on TV, in magazines and on the internet. Trying to figure out what card to open first (or even second and third!) can be overwhelming.

At 10xTravel, we know that everyone was a newbie to the game at one point. Heck, most of the staff made some beginner mistakes at the start of the hobby.

Our main goal is to help people join the fun, while providing advice that will guide them down a path to maximize their points and miles earnings from credit card sign-up bonuses and more.

We usually focus on the best cards to open for those just getting started, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, or two Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

However, this article is about credit cards to avoid when you’re getting into the game.

Now you’re thinking, “Wait…I just read the free e-book, and it said that applying for a lot of credit cards won’t hurt my credit score, why would I avoid applying for credit cards?”

Let me clarify, it’s not that I don’t want you to open credit cards, I just don’t want you to open the wrong credit cards.

Natural instinct leads us to want to get as many points as possible, but not all points are created equal. Using 10xTravel founder Bryce Conway often says, “would you rather have 2 pennies or 1 dollar?”

Obviously, you’d take the 1 dollar, as it is more valuable than 2 pennies. The same theory applies to points and miles. Just because a credit card bonus offers a lot of points, that doesn’t mean that the bonus is the most valuable.

The following credit cards are common newbie “traps” that can trip you up as you start your journey into the world of miles and points.

Capital One Venture Card

Due to excellent advertising, the Capital One Venture Card sounds like a perfect credit card for those looking to travel.

The card earns 2X miles on every purchase and those miles can be used for any airline or hotel, with no blackout dates.

You can redeem the points for travel purchases at a rate of 1 cent per mile, so a $200 hotel stay would require 20,000 miles.

On the surface, this seems perfect. You’ll earn 2X on every purchase, and you’ll have so many points that you’ll never have to worry about paying for travel again!

Well, that’s what Capital One wants you to think.

In reality, being able to redeem the points at only 1 cent per mile makes maximizing the value of the miles extremely difficult.  When cash prices for flights and hotels are high, you have to redeem many more miles to cover the cost. Continue Reading


Flight Review: Spirit Airlines from Columbus to Las Vegas (And Back)

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I have been compensated by Spirit Airlines for producing it. The opinions here are completely my own and are based on my own experience.

By: Bryce Conway – Founding Editor of

Hi Travel Junkies,

I just got back from a quick weekend trip to Vegas with some friends that featured my first ever flight on Spirit Airlines.

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Spirit Airlines Economy Columbus > Vegas

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We took our friends, Caleb & Allison with us!

As you may recall, Spirit just launched service to and from Columbus’ John Glenn International in February and partnered with us here at 10xT to promote it by giving away 2 free flight vouchers.

They now offer daily non-stop flights from Columbus to Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando as well as seasonal routes to Ft. Myers, Tampa, Myrtle Beach, and New Orleans.

Spirit also threw in a few vouchers for myself and some friends so naturally we decided to fly to Vegas for the weekend to give them a try.

In full disclosure, the vouchers came with one free checked bag and free seat selection (I was not aware of this until I checked in to my flight). Which is certainly not “normal” for the average Spirit flyer but I did my best to work around it for this review.

Like most travelers, I am very familiar with Spirit’s reputation for hidden fees and frequent delays. Almost everyone I spoke to leading up to the trip warned me about what I was getting myself in to.

But I am happy to report that the trip went off (almost) without a hitch and I was satisfied with my experience. Here’s how it went down. Continue Reading


What to Do With 35,000+ Starpoints

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

By: Caroline Lupini

In March, the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express was offering a limited time offer of 35,000 Starpoints after spending $7,000 in the first 3 months after opening the card.

(This offer is no longer acvailable as of March 28, 2018)

This offer only comes around about once a year, so I hope you had the opportunity to sign up for it if you were eligible! If you signed up for the card and completed the minimum spend requirement, you’ll have at least 42,000 Starpoints in your account.

So, now that you’ve got a good chunk of Starpoints, here are a few ideas of how to redeem them on your next trip.

Transfer Starpoints to Airline Miles (With a Bonus)

One of the reasons Starpoints are so highly valued in the miles and points community is that they can be transferred to a wide variety of airline partners, including several partners unique to SPG. Almost all of these partners have a 1:1 transfer ratio, so 1 Starpoint = 1 airline mile.

On top of this, Starwood gives you a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred.

20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 miles, 40,000 Starpoints = 50,000 miles, etc. You can transfer a maximum of 79,999 Starpoints per 24 hours, so to maximize the bonus you won’t want to transfer more than 60,000 points per day.

(The math is slightly different for Air New Zealand, Gol, LATAM, and United, but the same principle applies – when you spend 20,000 Starpoints, you get the equivalent of 25,000 Starpoints.)

Here are a few specific examples of redemptions you could make with your SPG points:

  • Book Cathay Pacific business class from the U.S. to Southeast Asia for only 50,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles (40,000 SPG)
  • Fly to South America on LATAM in business class for only 45,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles (40,000 SPG) and you’ll have 5,000 Alaska miles already saved for your next trip!
  • You only need 25,000 Flying Blue miles to get to Europe in economy class (20,000 SPG)
  • Korean Air SkyPass only requires 25,000 miles round-trip for an economy trip to Hawaii (that’s only 20,000 SPG)!

You can transfer your Starpoints to Alaska Mileage Plan to book Cathay Pacific

Continue Reading