All Posts By

Bryce Conway

Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: A $38,000 Southeast Asia Trip for $1,827.38

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: 10xT Reader Sarah Swank

I started out dabbling in the points world with the Chase Southwest credit cards years ago, but I didn’t realize at the time how much bigger this hobby could be. In 2015 I was introduced to 10xTravel by my friend Nicole and I quickly became obsessed and started learning as much as I could.

image7

10xT Reader Sarah flying in Asiana Business Class

When my husband and I began discussing our home remodel plans, I knew it would be a great time to earn some BIG points. Many 10x team members helped me along the way, but Bryce and Spencer definitely got majority of my questions and held my hand as I figured out the game.

Thanks to them, I was able to plan a 19 day trip to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam for my husband’s very first trip outside of North America!

I didn’t have a full game plan for our trip before I signed up for cards, so I basically got the recommended cards from the 10xTravel monthly list in order as I went along. Once it was time to book flights, I took Bryce’s advice and found business class award space from Tampa (TPA) to Hanoi (HAN) in Vietnam on Asiana Airlines via United MileagePlus miles.

We used 160,000 Ultimate Rewards points accrued from the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve and paid $28.80 out of pocket total.  Here is a screenshot of what our flights would have cost (each) without points.

Editor’s note: You can no longer get both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred.

$14,990.80 worth of business class flights for $28.80. That was the most exciting purchase I had made in a long time…maybe ever! The service and food on Asiana Airlines was amazing, I would be happy to fly with them again.

 

image2

At first, I booked our return flight the same exact way using United miles, then a couple months later I caught wind of the Etihad Apartments, and waited patiently for a change to our return flight so we could cancel. Luckily, that happened—I’ll touch on our experience with the Etihad Apartments later.

So, we flew into Hanoi and stayed at the Hilton. The going rate was $70/night or 10,000 points. Three nights there, 30,000 points.  We earned 75,000 Hilton points from the Citi Hilton Honors card that had $0 annual fee.

Editor’s note: Citi no longer offers Hilton cards. All Hilton cards are now issued by American Express.

Hanoi is a really cool city to experience. The traffic is intense, almost as if you’re living within a game of Frogger as you try to cross the street. We quickly learned that the best thing to do is to cross the street at a steady pace and don’t even look at the vehicles coming at you or you might hesitate out of the natural desire to live, and it’s the hesitation that would cause you to get hit! It was so entertaining to watch that we spent a few hours drinking and eating on the balcony of a 3rd floor restaurant just watching the traffic.

We decided to take a two-night cruise in Ha Long Bay from Hanoi, and we are so happy we did. This was going to be an out of pocket expense, but luckily we had built up a good spending cushion by getting a few particular cards. Continue Reading

Blog

Making The Most Of The Chase Sapphire Preferred Bonus: What The 10xTravel Team Would Do

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: 10xT Staff

We all love earning points and miles but, if you don’t know what to do with them, there isn’t much point in getting them! Since the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the most popular choices for folks just starting their points journey, we wanted to share how 10xTravel team members would utilize the sign-up bonus.

Before we get to that, let’s review the sign-up bonus and some of the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred:

  • Sign-up bonus: 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $4,000 within 3 months
  • 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points if you add an authorized user (AU) within 3 months
  • 2X points per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)

Chase Sapphire Preferred (learn more)

For the purposes of the following examples, we’re going to make a couple assumptions. First, you will hit the minimum spend requirement to earn the sign-up bonus. Second, that $1,000 of the $4,000 minimum spend will be met with dining and travel purchases. Third, you will add an authorized user within 3 months.

The math on this works out as 50,000 points for the sign-up bonus, 5,000 points for the authorized user bonus, 3,000 points for the unbonused spend and 2,000 points for the spend on travel and dining. This brings us to a total of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

Now, let’s check out how the team would use these 60,000 points!

Bryce Conway, Founder

One word, three syllables as to how would spend 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.

Hawaii.

I haven’t been to Hawaii since honeymooning there in 2014 and I have been itching to go back. Particularly when I see so many success stories of 10xT Readers traveling to these beautiful islands for next to nothing.

Hanging in Maui on my honeymoon

There are a number of ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to fly to Hawaii, but none are better than transferring them to Korean Air SkyPass to book round-trip economy flights on Delta for just 25,000 miles per ticket.

Yes, you read that right. 25,000 miles per ticket round-trip. This is one of the best “sweet spots” in the entire world of points and miles.

Booking these tickets through Korean Air is slightly more complicated than your average award booking, which is why we put together a complete guide to booking. Finding availability can be tricky but not impossible. Particularly if you are flexible with your dates and can avoid peak season.

(Note: Don’t plan on being able to do this over spring break or the holidays)

At 25,000 miles per ticket, I could use my 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book two tickets and still have 10,000 points left over.

With those 10,000 points I would likely do a cash + points booking at the Hyatt Place Waikiki, which can be booked for 6,000 Hyatt points + $75 per night. Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer 1:1 to Hyatt so I would just have to come up with the $75.

You can book the Hyatt Place Waikiki for 6,000 Hyatt Points + $75 per night. Image courtesy of Hyatt

Or, I could book any other type of travel (other hotels, ground transportation, etc.) via the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point. Meaning my 10,000 leftover points would save me $125 on whatever I ended up booking without requiring me to come out of pocket.

I would happily say Aloha to 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points if they allowed me and another person to say Aloha to Hawaii!

See what I did there? Aloha can be used to say hello or goodbye….. anddddd I’ll see myself out now. Who’s next?

Julie Szpira, Contributor

After experiencing my first Mardi Gras in 2017, I fell in love with the festival. I would use the points to book a round trip flight and three nights at a hotel for Mardi Gras 2019.

For my flight, I would transfer 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways to book a round-trip economy flight, operated by American Airlines.

British Airways utilizes a distance-based award chart and a one-way, non-stop flight from Chicago (ORD) to New Orleans (MSY) is 836 miles. That distance falls into “Zone 2”, and would require 7,500 Avios, plus $5.60 in taxes and fees.

An American Airlines flight departing Saturday, March 2nd and returning Tuesday, March 5th is currently $458 round-trip. Spending 15,000 Avios and $11.20 in taxes and fees would provide a 2.9 cent per point valuation.

pasted image 0

I have NO interest in paying $450+ for a domestic economy flight!

Just by booking the flight, things are already sounding pretty good, but I still have 45,000 points to work with! Since I’ll be spending my days at the parades and my nights in the French Quarter, I’ll need a place to rest my weary bones.

As you might imagine, hotel rates in New Orleans during Mardi Gras are insanely high. It’s not uncommon to see rates around $500 per night, and that’s for a simple hotel room! Therefore, I would transfer the remaining points to Hyatt and book the Hyatt Centric French Quarter New Orleans.

Booking the Member Rate for three nights, a room with two queen beds would cost $1,713.  pasted image 0 1

That’s A LOT of money. If you used your Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly through the portal at the standard 1.25 cent per point redemption, the stay would require 137,085 points.

However, by transferring Ultimate Rewards points to you World of Hyatt account, the stay can be booked at a rate of 15,000 Hyatt points per night—a total of 45,000Hyatt points for the three night stay. Using 45,000 points for a $1,713-stay would give you a 3.8 cent per point redemption for the hotel reservation.

Furthermore, since occupancy at the Hyatt Centric French Quarter New Orleans accommodates up to four adults, you can invite three of your friends to join you. Usually if you provide a free hotel room, your friends will offer to pay for your drinks and food for the weekend, which would make your trip totally free!

Hyatt Centric French Quarter, image courtesy of Hyatt

In total, you would redeem 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for over $2,000 worth of flights and hotels, and get to experience one of my favorite events of the year.

Caroline Lupini, Contributor

The Chase Sapphire Preferred was my first credit card after I got into points and miles, so it holds a special place in my heart – and the current 50,000 point sign-up bonus makes it a great starting point for just about anyone!

One of my favorite airline programs is Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer because they are transfer partners of all major transferable points currencies: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)—until Marriott finishes combining loyalty programs on August 1. Even when I don’t have enough points in one currency, I can still transfer to Singapore Airlines as a way to combine miles.

I’m a digital nomad and I’m planning to spend the end of 2018 in Australia. While I’m there, I might try to visit some South Pacific islands that are usually very difficult to get to. With Singapore KrisFlyer, you can book one-way economy flights within the South Pacific for only 12,500 miles or 17,500 miles in business class—these are normally very expensive flights! Availability can be tough to find, so I don’t have my heart totally set on this just yet.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Krisflyer to book flights from Australia to the South Pacific for 12,500 miles each way

I doubt that I would be able to justify spending the extra miles to fly in business class. If I stick to economy, I’d be able to fly two round-trip flights with miles left over. Or maybe I’ll take my boyfriend with me instead!

John Tunningley, Contributor

Not only is the Chase Sapphire Preferred (learn more) a great card for anyone starting out, but it also offers a great sign-up bonus with some of the most valuable points currently on the market. While I love traveling abroad and getting a taste of different cultures, the United States also has so much to offer.

With fantastic cities, beaches, and geological features alike sometimes the best trips are reached by getting in the car and driving someplace new. This is particularly true if you’re traveling as a family as the costs for air travel can add up fast— even with the help of points and miles.

That’s why I’m going to show you how to really stretch those Ultimate Rewards points and suggest you drive to a new destination and use the 60,000 points to cover the hotel(s) for an entire week.

Now, I know you might be thinking 7 days and 6 nights at a hotel is quite the vacation for 60,000 points and what’s even more surprising is that you will have anywhere between 12,000 and 30,000 left if you’re only staying for 6 nights at a Hyatt category 1 or category 2 property. This deal gets even sweeter if you stay at a Hyatt House or most Hyatt Place properties as they will also include breakfast.

The best part about this is if you transfer the points to Hyatt and manage to spend the entire week at a category 1 property you can get a second room for the kids or go on a second week-long vacation with the leftover points.

It can be a little more difficult to find these category 1 properties in some of the more desirable locations so to help get your brain turning and thinking about the possibilities, I’ve listed some of the locations below and also keep in mind all of the Hyatt House locations offer free breakfast and so do many of the Hyatt Place locations:

  • Phoenix, Arizona – 5 Hyatt Place locations
  • Tucson, Arizona – Hyatt Place
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado – Hyatt House
  • Fort Myers, Florida – Hyatt Place
  • St Petersburg, Florida – Hyatt Place
  • Atlanta, Georgia – 9 Hyatt Place locations
  • Chicago, Illinois – 3 Hyatt House locations, 5 Hyatt Place locations, and a Hyatt Regency
  • St. Louis, Missouri – Hyatt Place
  • Memphis, Tennessee – 3 Hyatt Place locations
  • Salt Lake City, Utah – Hyatt Place

You could use your Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus to book a week at Hyatt house Colorado Springs. Image courtesy of Hyatt

In addition to these locations, there are too many Hyatt category 1 locations to list in Texas as every major city seems to have a handful and, if you want to visit the nation’s capitol, there are 3 category 1 Hyatt Place properties near Washington Dulles (IAD).

For category 2 properties, there is an even more extensive list you can find here. These hotels might not be in the center of downtown but being able to visit a beach in Florida or visit Washington D.C. for an entire week for 30,000 to 48,000 Ultimate Rewards points is a great deal.

Travis Cormier, Contributor

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of best reward cards for new points enthusiasts. One of the easiest ways for people new to the points and miles game to see the value is to have a plan for an entire vacation. Sometimes this can take multiple cards, but not with the Sapphire Preferred. You can use the 60,000 points for an entire vacation in Cabo—flights and accommodations included for 2 people!

I’m based in Texas, so my wife and I start our trips from Dallas. We would transfer 30,000 Ultimate Rewards to British Airways Executive Club. We would then use 30,000 Avios to book two round-trip tickets to Cabo for 15,000 point each.

pasted image 0 2

These flights can cost $435 per person round trip. That’s almost $900 in flights for only 30,000 points. I’ll happily take that deal!

After booking flights, that leaves 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points for accomodations. My favorite hotel program is World of Hyatt. For this trip, I would target the Hyatt Place Los Cabos. It isn’t the most luxurious hotel in Cabo, but the price and location make it a really good option to stretch your points as far as possible.

pasted image 0 3

Image courtesy of Hyatt

The Hyatt Place Los Cabos is a Hyatt Category 1—5,000 Hyatt points per night. So, I would transfer 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points to my World of Hyatt account to book 6 nights. An extra benefit is the Hyatt Place comes with free breakfast, which will help save you money to enjoy the nightlife and other activities available in Cabo.

I’m sure there are some other great ideas here, but as a beach bum at heart, I can’t imagine a better way to use the sign-up bonus (and AU bonus) from the Chase Sapphire Preferred than to get an entire vacation for 2 to Mexico. I love it so much, I’m planning to make this trip myself later this year!

Spencer Howard, Editor in Chief

With 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points in hand, I’d look to book a one-way business class award between Chicago (ORD) and Dublin (DUB) on Aer Lingus. That’s right, with just one sign-up bonus, you have enough points to take a trip to Europe in business class.

For 50,000 Avios, you can book an off-peak business class award (peak level is 60,000 Avios). Aer Lingus business class provides fully lie-flat seats so you can get some rest on the overnight flight to Dublin. Additionally, the vast majority of seats have direct aisle access so you don’t have to stumble over a neighbor to stretch your legs.

You can use your Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus to fly Business Class to Europe

To book, you can either transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Aer Lingus AerClub and book through Avios.com or to British Airways Executive Club. Both programs use Avios, but have some small differences.

If you book with AerClub Avios, you can book online through Avios.com but, if you book with British Airways Avios, you’ll need to call British Airways to book after finding award space on United’s site or on ExpertFlyer.

To top it all off, unlike many other award flights to Europe, you won’t have to pay any fuel surcharges on this one. Not a bad way to use a sign-up bonus if you ask me!

Bottom Line

As you can see, there are tons of ways to use Ultimate Rewards points. Whether you’re looking for economy flights to the Caribbean, within Australia or within the U.S., Chase has you covered. With so many Hyatt properties around the world, hotel stays won’t be too tough to book either. Finally, those who are hoping to try a business class flight can even use 60,000 points to give it a go.

Of course, there are tons of options we haven’t even discussed but these should give you a great idea of what is possible when you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred here (learn more).

Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: Dream Trip to Hawaii on Points/Miles

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: 10xT Reader – Chris Sheehy

My fiancé and I took our second trip to Hawaii earlier this year. We choose the island of Kauai this time and had an incredible 9 days trading out the cold Virginia winter for 80-degree beach days.

Hawaii is one of those places that most people think is unobtainable due to the cost of flights and hotels but, fortunately, they’re wrong! Overall, this trip would have cost close to $6,500 but we only paid 99 bucks!

image20

There is no way we could have come close to affording this without points and miles.

Our Trip to Kauai

  • Richmond, VA to Kauai, HI
  • Kauai Shores Hotel – 1 night
  • Aston Islander on the Beach – 1 night
  • Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa – 4 nights
  • Courtyard Marriott at Coconut Beach – 2 nights
  • Kauai, HI to Richmond, VA

Credit Cards We Used For Points

One of the major ways it was easy for us to do this is that every time I would decide to get a credit card that had a good offer, my fiancé would do the same. This allowed us to double down on points which made saving points for this trip so much easier.

These are the cards we used for our trip, however not all of these cards currently have the same sign-up bonuses as when we got them:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: 100,000-point sign-up bonus each
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 50,000-point sign-up bonus each
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred: 80,000-point sign-up bonus
  • Chase United Mileageplus Explorer: 70,000-mile sign-up bonus
  • Chase Hyatt Card: 2 free nights at any Hyatt property
  • Barclay Arrival Plus: 50,000-mile sign-up bonus

Continue Reading

Blog

Best Credit Card Offers – May 2018

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 – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

Every month I share a post with what I believe are the top credit card offers on the market according to the 10xT staff. Today we are going to take a look at the best offers for May 2018.

Apologies for being a few days late this month. A number of cards have shuffled their offers so I wanted to wait for everything to shake out before publishing the monthly list.

I rank these offers by looking at their signup bonus, cardholder perks, ongoing value, and any fees they may charge. And while the best offer for you will vary depending on a number of factors, I am going to rank the top offers based on the order in which I think they should be chosen by the average person.

This month features a few changes as a number of cards have raised and lowered their offers in the last month. To be honest it was hard to rank some of them because I had to weigh “this is the best offer we have seen on this card in a while” against “which has the higher overall value”. So there will be some variability based on your individual circumstances.

If you’ve ever watched the NFL Draft before, consider this list my version of “Todd’s Big Board”. It’s simply the best overall cards available without regard to a specific points/miles need.

I also divide these top credit offers in to two lists, one for those of you who are over 5/24 and one for those of you who are under.

(If you don’t know what the Chase 5/24 rule is you’re going to want to give this a read)

As always, feel free to email me with questions (Bryce@10xTravel.com) about your own situation and I would be happy to help you select the best card for you.

Here we go!

If you are under 5/24, here are the best cards available right now:

 

1) Chase Sapphire Preferred

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months
  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Trip delay and primary rental car insurance
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year 

(Full offer details here: Learn More)

Continue Reading

Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: Our Amazing Trip to Vietnam on Points and Miles

By Anna Zaks

Strangely enough, Vietnam was not on my radar until a couple of years ago. Southeast Asia looks so far away and getting to Vietnam from the US.. is not an easy feat. But, as I recently discovered, all the planning and hours spent on planes and in airports are so worth it.

Vietnam is a great country and you should definitely put it on your must-see list. So, drop everything right now and start planning your trip. Here’s how my husband and I did it.

image310xT Reader Anna in Vietnam

Vietnam is a big country and unless you can spend 3-4 weeks there I would suggest you don’t try to see everything on one trip. Because we were traveling in February, we decided that we wanted to see central and south Vietnam. This time of year, the weather is still a bit chilly in the North and I really wanted to get as much sunshine and warm weather as possible.

There are quite a few flight options and redemption opportunities if you travel from the U.S. to Vietnam’s major airports – Hanoi (HAN) and Ho Chi Minh City (SGN). My plan, however, was to fly to Da Nang (DAD) and fly back from SGN. Because Vietnam is so far away, we wanted to enjoy the comfort of business class!

Our Flights and Hotels

Cleveland (CLE) to Boston (BOS)—positioning flight

BOS to DAD

Da Nang (1 night)

La Siesta Resort and Spa Hoi An (3 nights)

Hoi An to SGN

Park Hyatt Saigon Ho Chi Minh City (3 nights)

SGN to Phu Quoc (PQC)

JW Marriott Phu Quoc (5 nights)

PQC to SGN

Park Hyatt Saigon (1 night)

SGN to CLE

It was not easy finding award flights to DAD from the US but I was able to snag a business class seat on Cathay Pacific from BOS with a stopover in Hong Kong (HKG) for 70K American AAdvantage miles.

I earned the miles with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Cardand I topped off my AAdvantage account by transferring SPG Starpoints I earned with the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express.

To get from my hometown of CLE to BOS, I used 10,000 United MileagePlus miles for my positioning flight.

The flight from BOS to HKG was in business class and the flight from HKG to DAD was in economy—it’s a 2-hour flight and I got bulkhead seats, so it wasn’t a problem at all. I was able to use the business class lounge at HKG to shower and to have some breakfast, as Cathay Pacific allows you to use lounges on arrival when you are connecting. My husband was already in Asia for work, so we didn’t have to worry about getting him to Vietnam on points and miles. Continue Reading

Blog

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 10xTravel.com

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

Blog

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 10xTravel.com

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.

image3 3

Spirit Airlines Economy Columbus > Vegas

Image 1 2

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

Blog

Best Credit Card Offers – April 2018

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 – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

Every month the 10xTravel staff discusses the current credit card offers available and then share them. Today, we are going to take a look at the best offers for April 2018.

We rank these offers by looking at their signup bonus, cardholder perks, ongoing value and any fees they may charge. And while the best offer for you will vary depending on a number of factors, we are going to rank the top offers based on the order in which we think they should be chosen by the average person.

This month features a few changes as a number of cards have raised and lowered their offers in the last month. To be honest, it was hard to rank some of them because we had to weigh “this is the best offer we have seen on this card in a while” against “which has the higher overall value”. With that in mind, there will be some variability based on your individual circumstances.

If you’ve ever watched the NFL Draft before, consider this list my version of “Todd’s Big Board”. It’s simply the best overall cards available without regard to a specific points/miles need.

We also divide these top credit offers in to two lists, one for those of you who are over 5/24 and one for those of you who are under.

(If you don’t know what the Chase 5/24 rule is you’re going to want to give this a read)

As always, feel free to email us with questions about your own situation and we’d be happy to help you select the best card for you.

Here we go!

If you are under 5/24, here are the best cards available right now:

  1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months
  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Trip delay and primary rental car insurance
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year 

Commentary:

Once again, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes in at #1 overall because of its incredible signup bonus, reasonable annual fee (that is also waived for the first year), and the amazing value of the points it earns.

This card was available with a 60,000 point bonus for a hot second last week but that appears to be gone.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are widely considered to be among the best points in the industry thanks to their ability to be transferred to multiple airline and hotel partners. This gives you a ton of options for redeeming your points no matter where you want to travel.

You can also redeem Ultimate Rewards to book travel via the Chase travel portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point, meaning the 50,000 bonus points offered by this card are worth a minimum of $625 when redeemed to book travel.

Transferring them to Chase’s many transfer partners can provide the highest redemption values if you know where to look.

One of the best examples of this is round trip to Hawaii for just 25,000 Korean SKYPASS miles. Meaning that the 50,000 point signup bonus from this card could score you two round-trip flights to Hawaii.

Check out our recent article on why this should be the first card you start with for more information.

Note that Chase has imposed new restrictions on the Chase Sapphire cards that limit your ability to get multiple versions of them. [More details on that here]. 

Continue Reading

Blog

Is the MasterCard Black Card Worth the $495 Fee?

By: Bryce Conway – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

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,

Today, we’re going to answer a few questions about a relatively new credit card on the market that is generating quite a bit of buzz, the MasterCard Black Card.

We have been getting a ton of questions about this card over the past couple weeks, probably due to the extensive marketing they have done lately.

So, is the MasterCard Black Card a good option for you?

Let’s start by taking a quick look at the offer details:

  • Earn 1 point for every $1 you spend
  • Points are worth 2 cents each when redeemed for airfare, 1.5% for cash back
  • Annual $100 airline credit (includes airline tickets, baggage fees, etc.)
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • Luxury Card Concierge access 24/7
  • Primary cardholders receive membership to Priority Pass
  • $495 annual fee, not waived ($195 fee per additional users)

To put it bluntly, The MasterCard Black Card is basically the equivalent of taking a $7 bottle of gas station vodka, dumping it in to an empty Grey Goose bottle, then strutting around a nightclub like you own the place.

It’s buying a $50 Timex watch, scratching off the “Tim”, writing “Rol” with a fine-point sharpie, and then showing off your brand new “Rolex” to all your friends.

It’s taking a Capital One Venture Card, spray painting it black, writing “Black Card” on the front, and posting a picture to Instagram with the #HatersWillSayItsPhotoshopped (this one is way more accurate than you think. More on that in a bit).

Continue Reading

Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: A $20,466 Trip To Australia For Just $343.80

Guest Post By: Matt Brown

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

We just got back from an insane almost 3 week trip to Australia to celebrate my wife and my 5th Anniversary along with my father in law’s 65th birthday. We flew business class and stayed in some insane hotels that we never would have had experienced without miles and points!

My wife and I first started collecting miles and points in early 2016. In just over the 2 years, we’ve been able to collect over 2 million points to put toward a variety of travels. Thanks to award travel, we haven’t paid directly out of pocket for flights and most hotels in almost 2 years, and we don’t plan on changing that anytime soon!

One trip I’d always wanted to do was an extended trip to Australia. So, in March 2018, my wife and I—as well as her parents—headed Down Under for a few weeks of fun!

The most famous landmark in Sydney from the Park Hyatt Sydney.

(Note: These all only cover my wife and my travel logistics/costs/etc)

Our Australia Adventure: An Overview

·      Greensboro to New York City (positioning flight)

·      JW Marriott Essex House (1 night) – New York City

·      New York City to Seoul, South Korea to Sydney Australia

·      Park Hyatt (2 nights) – Sydney

·      Sheraton on the Park (2 nights) – Sydney

·      Sydney to Cairns

·      AirBNB (3 nights) – Port Douglas

·      Cairns to Brisbane

·      Brisbane Marriott (2 nights)

·      Brisbane to Melbourne

·      Park Hyatt (3 nights) – Melbourne

·      Melbourne to Sydney

·      Marriott Circular Quay (1 night) – Sydney

·      Sydney to Seoul to Chicago

·      Marriott Suites O’Hare (1 night) – Chicago

·      Chicago to Greensboro

I had a few goals in mind for the Australia trip. I wanted to fly on an Airbus A380 (still haven’t as of yet!) in business or first class and I wanted to stay in some of the nicest hotels possible on points—most notably the Park Hyatt in both Sydney and Melbourne. Fortunately, we were able to do just that.

How We Earned The Points For A Luxury Trip To Australia

To save up for this trip (and other trips), we use a strategic credit card plan that involved opening the following cards to help build up our balances of mostly SPG and Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The number following the card will indicate if one or both of us opened it.

Editor’s note: Some of these bonuses have changed or are no longer available

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (2) – 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2) – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred (1) –  80,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Chase Ink Business Plus (1) – 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points (no longer available)
  • Chase Ink Business Cash (1) – 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (2) – 35,000 SPG Starpoints
  • Starwood Preferred Business Guest Credit Card from American Express (2) – 35,000 SPG Starpoints
  • Chase Hyatt Credit Card (1) – 2 free nights

Total Points:

  •  550,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points
  • 140,000 SPG Starpoints
  • 2 Free Nights at any Hyatt property worldwide

Along with the above cards, we eventually product-changed duplicate cards to the Chase Freedom to take advantage the 5x quarterly bonus categories when applicable. Further, once you start taking super nice trips, your friends start asking questions and want to get in on the secrets of free travel, and this opens up lots of referral opportunities that we’ve been able to use very well and earn points from!

On top of sign-up bonuses, we organized our everyday spending to maximize bonus categories. Since we eat out and travel a lot, we get great returns on the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card thanks to the travel and dining bonus categories which earn 3X points.

We also charge almost everything on our various credit cards (mortgage, utilities, etc.) to maximize points earnings. However, it’s worth noting that we never carry a balance as the interest costs easily far outweigh the value of the points earned.

Where we were able to make the most ground up however is the fact that we’re both self-employed with online businesses (I do web development and my wife runs an Etsy store), and a number of the online services that we use allow us to earn 3X with our Chase Ink Business Preferred cards.

When you combine bonus category spending, our businesses’ spending and other personal spending, we were really able to build up large points balances very quickly.

Here We Go!

With our points in hand, we set out to put together an itinerary that would allow us to have a trip throughout eastern Australia. We wanted to be sure we were able to cover a lot of ground and see all of the various sites we wanted to see at a relaxing pace.

We knew that we couldn’t see all of Australia in one trip, so we’ve left plenty to come back for on future trips. We also wanted to take advantage of some super nice accommodations on this trip.

Highlights Of Our Australia Adventure

We live in North Carolina, which isn’t great for accessing long-haul international flights to anywhere but Europe. Because of this, and by taking advantage of British Airways’ distance based award chart, we used a quick 15,000 British Airways Avios transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards to position ourselves in New York City.

We mainly chose to position in New York City because we were flying on a separate ticket the day before we left for Sydney. If for whatever reason this flight was cancelled, delayed, moved, etc, it’s only about an 8 hour drive. If we were hit with a big storm, we would still be able to make our flight by driving to New York. We also chose New York (JFK) because it has flights to almost anywhere in the world on every carrier you can imagine.

Saver award space to Australia is notoriously difficult to find, very expensive or requires routing through Asia. Because of this, we took Asiana Airlines from JFK to Seoul (ICN) then ICN to Sydney (SYD) for a total travel time of just under 27 hours. This seems like a major detour, but it was only about 2 hours longer than my in-laws route of Charlotte (CLT)-Los Angeles (LAX)-SYD which took about 24 hours. In lie-flat beds in business class, we hardly even noticed the difference in time!

Once in Australia, British Airways Avios really shine thanks to their distance-based award chart. We were able to make use of some super cheap redemptions on Qantas at 4,500 Avios per person in economy class from Melbourne (MEL) to SYD and 10,000 Avios per person from SYD up to Cairns (CNS).

By being able to book far in advance, we were able to snag some cheap flights on Virgin Australia through the Chase travel portal using Ultimate Rewards at a rate of 1.5 cents per point. We flew from CNS to Brisbane (BNE) for 8,520 Ultimate Rewards points (~$127) each and then BNE to MEL for 6,200 Ultimate Rewards points (~$93) each.

Business Class Flights To Australia

Long-haul international flights are much more tolerable in business class in lay-flat beds and eating delicious food!

The famed Bibimbap meal in business class on Asiana Airlines. It was delicious!

  • Greensboro (GSO) to New York (LGA) on American Airlines (positioning flight) – 15,000 British Airways Avios transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $11.20 instead of ~$410.
  • JFK to ICN to SYD on Asiana and SYD to ICN to Chicago (ORD) on United  – 320,000 United MileagePlus miles transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $251.32 instead of ~$12,870
    • We ended up rebooking our return flight while on our trip when Saver space opened up to SYD-SFO-ORD, but for the same mileage cost
  • SYD to CNS on Qantas – 20,000 Avios transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $42.32 instead of ~$300
  • CNS to BNE on Virgin Australia – 17,040 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (via Chase travel ortal) instead of ~$255
  • BNE to MEL on Virgin – 12,506 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points (via Chase travel portal) instead of ~$185
  • MEL to SYD on Qantas – 9,000 BA Avios transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $27.76 instead of ~$220
  • ORD to GSO on United – 20,000 miles transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $11.20 instead of ~$465

Flight Totals

  • 44,000 British Airways Avios
  • 340,000 United MileagePlus miles
  • 29,546 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (portal)

·      Total – 413,546 points + $343.80 (taxes/fees) instead of $14,712.28

Roundtrip Business Class flights for 2 for 320,000 United Miles + $251.32 in taxes/fees.

If we were going to pay cash, this is what the same flights for the 2 of us would’ve cost.

25,763 miles is a lot of flying for just $343.80 out of pocket!

Luxury Hotels Across Australia

The location and views from the Park Hyatt Sydney are hard to beat!

Our upgraded room at the Park Hyatt Melbourne. Rooms are always better with an office and sitting area. Not pictured – the huge walk-in closet and enormous bathroom.

  • JW Marriott Essex House New York – 1 Night for 45,000 Marriott Rewards points (transferred 15,000 SPG Starpoints) instead of $429.23
  • Park Hyatt Sydney – 2 Nights for 2 free night certificates instead of $1,845.83/room
  • Sheraton on the Park – 2 Nights for 27,000 SPG Points instead of $1,061.19/room
  • AirBNB Port Douglas – 3 Nights for ~$475 = ~47,500 Capital One Venture Rewards miles
  • Brisbane Marriott – 2 Nights for 25,060 Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of $356.25
  • Park Hyatt Melbourne – 3 Nights for 65,996 Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of $989.94
  • Marriott Circular Quay Sydney – 1 Night – 27,798 Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of $416.97
  • Marriott Chicago Suites O’Hare – 1 Night – 11,962 Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of $179.44

Hotel Totals

  • 42,000 SPG Starpoints
  • 129,506 Ultimate Rewards points
  • 47,500 Venture Rewards miles

Total – 219,006 points instead of $5,753.85

How Many Points We Used

All said and done, we pulled together a trip that would have cost $20,466.13 for 632,552 points and miles + $343.80.

With all of the money we saved on hotels, we could easily splurge on this awesome, but very reasonably priced, AirBNB for our 3 nights in Port Douglas.

Hotel And Airport Lounge Experiences (Plus Priority Pass Select)

Not only did we save thousands of dollars on our flights and hotels, but we saved additional money on food and drink in a country where food and drink is generally more expensive than our hometown.

Thanks to my Gold status with Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott, we had access to the lounge at each Marriott. We also had Club Level access thanks to concierge upgrades at the Park Hyatts.

These lounges provided delicious breakfast buffets, access to food and drinks throughout the day, and heavy hor d’oeuvres and cocktails each evening. So each day, we had at least one meal (breakfast) as well as snacks and drinks covered also literally for free. Additionally, our bookings at both Park Hyatt properties included a $100 food and beverage voucher each, so we enjoyed two delicious meals at the hotel along with club food.

When not eating in the lounges we got to enjoy delicious food such as KANGAROO STEAKS!

We certainly didn’t sit around and eat hotel food all day everyday, but having some of the more basic meals covered  allowed us to be more adventurous for lunches and dinners, especially in Melbourne and Sydney. When not eating in the lounges, we got to enjoy delicious food like Kangaroo Filet Steaks.

We also spent a lot of time in airports transiting from city to city. Thankfully, our Priority Pass Select membership through the Chase Sapphire Reserve provided access to many airport restaurants. Each time we went to the airport with a participating restaurant, we each had $36AUD to spend on food.

This breakfast was not only delicious, but all $127.90AUD (food, coffees, pastries and bottled water) of it was covered by the Priority Pass thanks to our $144AUD allowance each time.

We ate 3 meals totaling over $100AUD each at airports when traveling. They were all 100% FREE thanks to the Priority Pass that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.


This breakfast was not only delicious, but all $127.90AUD (food, coffees, pastries and bottled water) of it was covered by the Priority Pass thanks to our $144AUD allowance each time.

Reaching Out To Hotels For Special Occasions

If you’re a member of the 10xTravel Facebook Group, you know that contacting the hotel concierge or guest relations manager when celebrating a special occasion can do wonders.

Well, I contacted 6 of the 7 hotels for our trip and each hotel went out of their way to acknowledge our 5th anniversary, usually with a bottle of champagne and some dessert pastries. They also recognized my father-in-law’s birthday with the same treatment.

Welcome Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and flowers at the Park Hyatt Sydney.

We even scored some sweet room upgrades thanks to my email to the hotel concierge which took things to another level.

We got upgraded to this sick Terrace Suite at the JW Marriott Essex House. It included not only a 1200sq ft room but also a 300sq ft terrace.

Activities In Australia

Snorkeled with Sea Turtles on the Great Barrier Reef!

Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

Hung out with Tigers at the Australia Zoo…

…and koalas too!


Swimming on the famed Bondi Beach.

Driving 100+ miles along the beautiful and scenic Great Ocean Road outside Melbourne.

The famed 12 Apostles rock formation along the Great Ocean Road

Feeding Kangaroos

Final Thoughts

Without points and miles, this once-in-a-lifetime luxury adventure wouldn’t have been possible. As you can see, our flights and hotels could have cost over $20,000. I don’t know about you, but at 29 years-old, I’m in no shape to be dropping $20,000 on a vacation.

By taking care of our travel costs with points, we were able to enjoy some great meals and activities without worrying about the cost We even paid a little extra to rent Mercedes and BMW SUVs instead of the cheapest option because we could!

The beauty of all this is that points and miles allowed us to take a trip that we could only imagine for a fraction of the cash cost.

Now, we just need to figure out our next adventure. I’m ready for more champagne!