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Bryce Conway

READER SUCCESS STORY: A YOUNG FAMILY GOES TO MAUI HAWAII USING POINTS AND MILES
Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: Maui, Hawaii Using Points and Miles for $670

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support. You can read our advertising disclosure here.

By: 10xT Reader Damien Boulat

The Strategy

My wife and I have found that early to mid-November, before the madness of the Thanksgiving crowds takes hold, is a wonderful time to travel. This time around, Maui was on the wish-list, so I started exploring a strategy to get us and our 2-year old son there for a relaxing 10-day vacation.

Being based in Los Angeles, there are plenty of non-stop flight options to the Hawaiian islands. As I am well above 5/24 myself, I applied and was approved for the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa, which at the time offered a welcome bonus of 30,000 miles, a Companion Pass fare for just taxes, and a $100 statement credit, after $2,000 in spend in the first 3 months.

Maui Hawaii using Points and Miles

All in all we made a dream vacation happen for $670 out of pocket. Had we not used points and miles strategies our cost would have been over $3300. That’s more than $2630 in savings, with minimal effort on our part (2 new credit card sign-ups and an easy booking process).

As my son is over the age of two, we needed three flights. The Companion Pass fare covered my wife and son amounting to $422 total for both, or $322 if you consider the $100 statement credit.  My own flight would need to be booked using Alaska Miles; Saver Awards are 17,500 miles each way for mainland flights to Hawaii and were easy to find for our low-season dates. That’s 35,000 miles + $11 in taxes for the round-trip, so I just needed a little bit of extra spend on the Alaska Visa to earn the miles needed. The card also gave us one-free checked bag, which for our little family was plenty, saving us another $50 roundtrip.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card Earn 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days

As we began to look at accommodation options, we quickly realized 9-nights in Maui, can be quite expensive. Not for us 10xT Insiders us though! We had about ~40,000 leftover Ultimate Rewards points in my wife’s Chase Sapphire Reserve account, opened the previous year, but that wouldn’t be nearly enough. My wife being at 3/24 we applied for the Chase Business Ink Preferred card, offering us another 80,000 points, and closer to 90,000 after our spend to reach the bonus. All in all, that put is around 130,000 UR points, which we combined into the CSR account to get the maximum 1.5 CPP valuation on the UR portal for travel bookings.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Earn 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months(Learn more)
Ink Business Preferred 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after $5,000 spend in 3 monthsLearn More

Although we considered some of the hotel options (there are beautiful resorts from Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton), given the length of our stay and the fact we were traveling with a toddler, a condo-style property made the most sense for us to have room to spread out and take things easy.

The Luana Kai’s living room at the ground floor so our son could run out directly on the big open grass area to play.

Turns out, there are quite a few condo-style options available directly through the UR portal. Our priority being a nice view at a location convenient to the beach, we settled on Luana Kai in Kihei, booking a direct-oceanfront 1-bedroom unit. We chose to be on the ground floor so our son could run out directly on the big open grass area to play.

Maui Hawaii using Points and Miles

The Luana Kai’s Bedroom

All in all, the unit would have costs us ~$1,850 for the 9-nights, but we paid nothing out of pocket by using ~123,500 UR points. The rate we booked was inclusive of a cleaning fee so that was covered as well.

The only thing left was a car rental. I did have a few UR points left, but after comparing with rates on AutoSlash, I determined the portal rates were not competitive and chose to save my points for future travel. We paid $337 total out of pocket for the duration of the trip and the Chase Sapphire Reserve we used for the booking provided us with our insurance needs.

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Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: A Family Adventure to Italy Using Points and 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. You can read our advertising disclosure here.

By: 10xT Reader Megan Parsons

We just came back home from a $16,000+ family adventure through Italy for less than $1,500!

I started earning points and miles in late 2015 and although we have used them for smaller trips, this was our first big international redemption.

Early this summer, my family and I took a wonderful 15 day trip to Italy using points and miles. This was planned as a trip for 4 but later changed to 3 as my son had enlisted in the National Guard and was away for training.

Deciding where to go was difficult, as my husband and I prefer to do a bit more wandering off the beaten track.  For this trip, our itinerary included Rome, Naples (incl Pompeii and Amalfi), Florence, Tuscany and Venice.

Trip to Italy Using Points and Miles | Reader Success Story: A $16,000+ Family Adventure Through Italy For Less Than $1,500

Booking Flights to Italy

We live in Milwaukee, which generally stinks as far as flight options, particularly when trying to use miles. We often fly out of Chicago and that’s just what we did this time. Our outbound flights for this trip were on Turkish Airlines with a connection in Istanbul (IST).

This was originally booked with my husband and me in business class and the two kids in economy — yes, I am a mean mom — but I couldn’t find both business and economy seats with the same program, so I booked the business class seats through Aeroplan and the economy seats through United.

The approximate cost of two business class seats would have been $6,840 but we used 55,000 Aeroplan miles plus 14.70 CAD (about $11) per ticket. Fortunately, when booking Turkish Airlines with Aeroplan, you won’t have to pay surcharges — though you will on a number of partners.

To get enough Aeroplan miles, I transferred a combination of SPG Starpoints (now part of Marriott Rewards) and American Express Membership Rewards points. I made sure to transfer chunks of 20,000 Starpoints so we could receive the 5,000-mile transfer bonus.

Editor’s note: When the SPG program was transitioned to Marriott Rewards, SPG points were converted to Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio. This means 20,000 SPG points became 60,000 Marriott Rewards points. You can now receive the 5,000-mile transfer bonus when transferring 60,000 Marriott points.

Italy Using Points and Miles | Reader Success Story: A $16,000+ Family Adventure Through Italy For Less Than $1,500

10xT Reader Megan in Turkish Airlines Business Class

Trip to Italy Using Points and Miles | Reader Success Story: A $16,000+ Family Adventure Through Italy For Less Than $1,500

For the kids’ economy tickets, I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my United MileagePlus account. These award tickets cost 30,000 United miles each plus $22.60 in taxes/fees. The Approximate cash price of the tickets was $1,873.00

Editors Note: You could earn these same 30,000 bonus points (50,000 actually) with one Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000 bonus points after $4,000 spend in 3 monthsLearn More

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Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: A $17,000 Adventure to the South Africa Using Points and 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. You can read our advertising disclosure here.

By: 10xT Reader Alycia Moore

A $17,000 Adventure to the South Africa (with a stop in the Netherlands) using points and miles.

Every May, my boyfriend and I take a trip abroad to celebrate our anniversary. We’ve traveled to Vancouver, taken a road trip across Europe and explored Denmark. This year, we took it to a new level and visited South Africa.

The one thing that differed this year from past years is we did it for insanely cheap. We paid only $1,700 for a trip that could have cost over $17,000!

How? Points and miles, of course!

I’ve spent the last year learning about points and how to best utilize credit cards to travel. We had gotten spoiled when my boyfriend worked for an airline and had flown First Class many times together. Once he quit his job – we were back to paying for flights in an economy (boo!!) and then I found travel hacking.

Here’s a recap of our amazing trip

South Africa using points and miles | Itinerary, Expenses and Miles and Points Used

“The one thing that differed this year from past years is we did it for insanely cheap. We paid only $1,700 for a trip that could have cost over $17,000! How? Points and miles, of course!” – Alycia Moore

We had very specific dates we could travel as I’m a wedding photographer and I needed to return to the states to shoot a wedding.

For the first leg, we booked economy tickets on United from San Francisco (SFO) to Amsterdam (AMS) for about $400 each.

From there, we used 220,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to fly round-trip from Amsterdam to Cape Town (CPT) — about a 12-hour flight. We transferred our Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air SkyPass to book KLM business class.

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ANA First Class Review IAH to NRT
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Flight Review: ANA First Class from Houston (IAH) to Tokyo (NRT)

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support. You can read our advertising disclosure here.

By: Bryce Conway, Founder of 10xTravel

Hi Travel Junkies,

I just got back from a 10 day trip to Japan that featured a round-trip flight on ANA in its legendary first class product.

This was not my first experience flying ANA, though my previous trips had all been in economy. So, saying that I had any idea what I was in for would be like saying I know what to expect at STK because I have previously indulged in a steak nachos box at Taco Bell.

Anyway, the flight was awesome and today I am going to take you through the whole experience.

Let’s get to it.

Booking

I booked my First Class flight on ANA using the only strategy that anyone in the points/miles world really ever should when booking this flight; by transferring points and booking through Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Atlantic uses a zone-based award chart for flights on ANA that requires just 110,000-120,000 miles round-trip for first class flights on ANA between the US and Japan.

This is about half of what many other airlines would charge for the same flight, making it one of the better sweet spots in all of points/miles.

For most folks the booking process is relatively easy.

  1. Find first class saver space on United.com from the USA (select airports only) to Tokyo (Narita only) on a flight operated by ANA. Must be a round-trip booking, though you can return to a different US airport than the one you departed from.
  2. Call Virgin Atlantic and give them the flight information from #1. Ask them to put a 24 hour hold on the reservation.
  3. Transfer the required points from Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Marriott, or any combination of the four to Virgin Atlantic.
  4. Log in to your Virgin Atlantic account to confirm that the transfer is complete, then call Virgin again to finalize the booking

Though, I was only able to do this after going through one of the craziest booking processes I have experienced since starting in this world 7+ years ago.

Here’s the tl;dr: Continue Reading

Credit card rewards: Are they a rebate or award?
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Do I Need to Claim My Credit Card Points and Air Miles on My Taxes?

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

Guest post by: Steven C. Hamilton 

Hi Travel Junkies,

One of the more frequent questions that I am asked about points/miles is what impact they have on your taxes. Booking free flights and earning cash back is great and all, but nobody wants to get stuck with a tax bill when they get home.

So I wanted to take a moment today to discuss this subject to hopefully answer some of the more common questions.

How do taxes on points/miles work?

Do you need to claim your free trips as “income”?

Do you need to hire an accountant to help you sort all of this out?

Ok, I lied. I am not going to be answering any of these questions because I know very little about taxes and accounting (my college professors can vouch for that).

But thankfully 10xT Facebook Insider Steven Hamilton does. And will be taking over from here.

Take it away, Steven!

—–

DO I NEED TO CLAIM MY CREDIT CARD POINTS AND AIR MILES ON MY TAXES?

Most Credit Card rewards are a rebate giving you miles when you spend a certain amount. These won’t impact your taxes.

The IRS requires you to report all of your worldwide income. This can include that $20 bill you found on the ground or the value of that rare coin you found in the attic. Sometimes it can include odd things most people would never think of as income such as credit card rewards.

If you earn air miles and points on your credit cards, these could be considered taxable income by the IRS.

Miles and points are not always taxable, but they can be in certain circumstances. So how do you know the difference?

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How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass [Updated for 2019]
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How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass [Updated for 2019]

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

Hi Travel Junkies,

The leaves are changing colors, football is back, and companies are putting pumpkin spice in every product imaginable.

Which can only mean one thing; Southwest Companion Pass season is here!

How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass [Updated for 2019]

The Southwest Companion Pass (often abbreviated as “CP” or “SWCP”) is a perk offered by Southwest Airlines that allows you to bring a companion on any Southwest flight you fly for just the taxes and fees.

So let’s get right to it.

Today we are going to cover all things Southwest Companion Pass. This year’s strategy is going to be a bit different than past years so read closely and pay close attention to the changes to the Southwest credit cards.

Table of Contents

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
How to earn 110,000 Qualifying Southwest Rapid Reward Points in a calendar year?
How to earn 110,000 Southwest miles in a calendar year?
Maximizing the Value of Your Companion Pass
How to Use the Southwest Companion Pass
Changing the Name of Your Companion
Frequently Asked Questions
Final Thoughts

Here we go.

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Companion Pass (often abbreviated as “CP” or “SWCP”) is a perk offered by Southwest Airlines that allows you to bring a companion on any Southwest flight you fly for just the taxes and fees.

Think of it like a plus-one invite that you can use with any of your Southwest flight reservations. As long as you are physically on the plane, you can bring your plus-one Companion with you.

Unlike many of the other “companion passes” offered by competitor airlines (Delta, Alaska, British Airways, etc.), the Southwest Companion Pass has very few restrictions on when or how often you use it.

How to earn the southwest companion pass

Unlike many of the other “companion passes” offered by competitor airlines (Delta, Alaska, British Airways, etc.), the Southwest Companion Pass has very few restrictions on when or how often you use it

It works on both paid and award tickets, even if you weren’t the one purchasing the flight (work travel, generous family/friends, etc.).

It has no limit on how often you use it.

There are no blackout dates.

And there are no restrictions on which Southwest flights it can be used with. Continue Reading

Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: A First-Class Trip to the Maldives Using 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.

This is a guest post by 10xT Reader Jeff Koss. For more examples of readers using points/miles to take amazing trips to check out our 10xT Insiders Facebook Group.

I just finished my first class trip to the Maldives including a long flight in Etihad’s Apartments from Abu Dhabi (AUH) to New York (JFK) — only 4 of the 9 Apartments were occupied.

I selected seat 1H directly across from the Residence. Someone with a ton of cash to burn had booked it but canceled so the butler gave me a tour — you’re not allowed to take pictures so all I have are the memories.

10xTravel Reader Success Story

10xT Reader Jeff used miles to fly the Apartments en route to the Maldives

10xT Success Story

Seat 1H on the Etihad Apartments

It took me roughly 3 years to finally find a seat on dates I could travel and book this trip of a lifetime. Needless to say, I had high expectations and Etihad delivered! The Bordeaux wine and the food were ridiculously good.

10xTravel Reader Success Story

Needless to say, I had high expectations and Etihad delivered! The Bordeaux wine and the food were ridiculously good.

Etihad Apartments

The total cost of these flights would have been $22,831. I paid $117.41 and 221,500 AA miles.

Here’s how I did it!

Maldives using points and miles

All in, I spent a little over $2,200 on flights and hotels for a round-trip first-class trip across the world. Compared to the $25,000+ that it would have cost without points, I couldn’t be happier.

Earning American AAdvantage Miles

I earned 180,000 American miles thanks to welcome bonuses from 3 cards: Barclays Red Aviator, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select. After putting some spend on each of them I ended up with 190K American miles.

Searching tips: Forget trying to search an outbound flight on Etihad from the U.S. I spent WAAAAY too much time. Thanks to Spencer & Travis, I was told to search from AUH or MLE – JFK.

(Check out some of the other best ways to fly to the Maldives using points and miles here)

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Blog

What to Know About Flying Southwest Airlines [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 – Founder of 10xTravel.com

Over the past couple of decades, Southwest Airlines has managed to do what many other airlines could never dream of doing. They’ve somehow become one of the most popular airlines in America, while also being one of the most misunderstood.

Southwest Airlines is one of the most popular, yet misunderstood airlines in the US

Everyone has heard of Southwest, many have flown them before, yet most people I talk to are not even vaguely familiar with many of Southwest’s policies and procedures.

So, today we are going to take a look at 10 things that you need to know to help you make the most out of flying Southwest, including how to use them to watch one particular NFL team win the 2019 Super Bowl.

Here we go!

1. Southwest doesn’t fly everywhere

Southwest Airlines currently flies to 100+ destinations in the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Caribbean. They also have announced a number of new routes to Hawaii, which will go on sale sometime in late 2018.

100+ destinations might sound like a lot, but if you look at their interactive route map you will notice that they generally only fly to major cities often served by multiple other airlines.

What to know about flying Southwest airlines

Southwest flies to most major cities in the US and Caribbean, but has limited offerings to regional airports

Southwest also flies to many “secondary airports” in the cities they serve — Houston Hobby (HOU) instead of Houston International (IAH), Dallas Love (DAL) instead of Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), etc. — so make sure to double check before using them for a positioning flight.

Personally, I live in Columbus, Ohio and use Southwest for just about all of my domestic travel. I can drive 20 minutes to the airport and hop a direct or one-stop Southwest flight to just about any major city in the US.

The same could not be said for someone living in Montana, West Virginia, or any other area of the country that is not close to one of the red dots on the map above.

One other downside of Southwest is that they operate out of non-traditional hubs, with Dallas Love Field and Chicago Midway being the biggest ones. So you will likely spend your layovers without access to airport lounges and other major airport amenities.

2. Southwest Has No Partner Airlines

Somewhat related to #1, Southwest is not involved with any airline alliance and has no other partner airlines of any kind so when exploring options to fly Southwest, what you see on the map above is what you get.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority 40,000 Southwest points after $1,000 spend in 3 months, an additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 in the first yearLearn More

If you want to fly elsewhere you will need to purchase a ticket on a different airline.

Note however that Southwest is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so any point earned with a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, etc. is potentially a Southwest point.

Ink Business Preferred 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after $5,000 spend in 3 monthsLearn More

This also means that any status earned on other airlines will not be honored when flying Southwest. Which is somewhat of a moot point because…

3. Southwest doesn’t have a conventional “first” or “business” class

Southwest only flies one type of plane, a Boeing 737, and has no first class, business, or economy plus seats anywhere on the plane. Seats are in a 3 x 3 configuration and every one of them is virtually the same. Continue Reading

Blog

Best Credit Cards: October 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 credit card offers for October 2018.

I rank these offers by looking at their signup bonuses, 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.

Best credit cards september 2018

Not quite as many changes this month as we had in September, but a few key ones that you will want to be aware of.

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) 

And finally, I added a list of the cards to the beginning of the post for easier reading. You can simply click on “the list” or “the details” below to read more about each card.

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.

Under 5/24:

The List

The Details

Over 5/24:

The List

The Details

Best Credit Cards Under 5/24

 

 

Best Credit Cards Over 5/24

The Details: Best CardsUnder 5/24

 

1) Chase Sapphire Preferred (50,000 – Learn More )

Image result for chase sapphire preferred

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases 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

(Full offer details here: Learn More )

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10xTravel Team: Our Favorite Award Stays

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

Something we’re asked daily in the 10xTravel Insider’s Facebook group is what hotel to book in Hawaii, Paris, the Maldives, and the list only grows from there.

It’s tough to tell people what they should book, though. The points you have and your personal preferences play a huge role in hotel choices. While we can’t tell you there’s a perfect hotel that everyone should want to book, we thought it would be fun to share our favorite award stays.

Today the 10xT Team will be sharing our favorite award stays

While some of these stays are pure luxury, I think you’ll find that an over the top luxury hotel is not enough to make a hotel stay amazing. In fact, sometimes a mid-range or high-end stay is just what you need for a memorable experience.

Now, let’s get into it!

Bryce Conway

The best award stay I have yet to experience happened almost completely by luck at the Renaissance Koh Samui.

My wife and I were on the last leg of a 2-week trip to Thailand and were booked to stay 7 nights at the Renaissance before flying home to the states. The days leading up to this stay were jam-packed with adventurous activities so we were looking forward to a few days of relaxation on the beach.

I booked our award stay by taking advantage of one of the Marriott Hotel + Air Packages (pre-merger). We used 310,000 Marriott Rewards points for 7 nights at a Category 7 property and earned 100,000 bonus Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

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