A Reader Success Story from Jessica P.

I began learning about points and miles in January 2018 with the help of 10xTravel’s articles and especially the 10xTravel Insiders Facebook Group.

We are a traveling family of six. My husband and I are teachers, we have two sons (ages 9 and 10), and my retired parents often travel with us. This gives us four players in the game, which has been very helpful in accumulating points.

Our travel focuses on the school break calendar and utilizing our points and miles in a way that lets the six of us travel together to places we could never normally afford on teacher salaries.

We earned three Southwest Companion Passes in January 2019 and were among the lucky group of people who had their pass extended all the way through 2021 due to the pandemic. As a result, our family has spent the last three years hitting as many of the far-flung destinations Southwest flies to from our home airport in Atlanta.

We are a very budget-conscious family that mostly stays in Hyatt Place hotels and packs oatmeal, granola bars and protein powder in our luggage to reduce our out-of-pocket expenses.

Our family is active, and we’ve been able to pay for bucket-list experiences due to our flights and hotels being covered with points. We’ve swam with sharks and learned to surf in Hawaii, ziplined in Costa Rica, snorkeled in Mexico and went canyoneering in Moab, Utah. The knowledge I’ve gained from 10xTravel has completely changed our lives!

swam with sharks and learned to surf in Hawaii
ziplined in Costa Rica
snorkeled in Mexico
canyoneering in Moab, Utah

swam with sharks and learned to surf in Hawaii

ziplined in Costa Rica

snorkeled in Mexico

canyoneering in Moab, Utah

Our Points and Miles Strategy

My points and miles strategy has been to wait for the best available card offers and have all players work on that same card at the same time. Then, I use the posts on 10xTravel and comments in the 10xTravel Facebook group to learn how to maximize that specific currency that we’ve earned.

When Hilton increased their sign-up bonuses on their family of cards, we jumped on the chance to accrue as many Hilton points as possible. My husband and I each used the 10xTravel referral link to get the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and referred my parents to get some extra points. We used Hilton’s points pooling feature to combine our rewards.

The Hilton Aspire was our first premium card, and I wanted to get the maximum value out of the $450 annual fee (see rates and fees). I knew each of us had access to a Hilton resort credit up to $250 each and the airline incidentals credit up to $200 each. I used the airline credit to fund our United Travel Bank but still needed to use the resort credit in 2021.

Separately, when Amex increased the sign-up bonuses for The Platinum Card® from American Express (see rates and fees) in late 2020, my husband, mother and I each snagged a card.

Once again, the annual fee was steep for our family, and I wanted to make the most of it. A huge bonus was The Centurion Lounge access. Sipping drinks and eating fancy food before a flight will never get old for this frugal family!

The Centurion Lounge access

How We Booked Our Trip to Paris

I had a Delta Air Lines voucher left over from a pandemic cancellation and used Scott’s Cheap Flights to find the cheapest way for my mom and me to take my sons to Europe for the first time over Thanksgiving break. We booked nonstop flights to Paris from our home airport in Atlanta because that was the best deal that came across my inbox.

When American Express added the Fine Hotels and Resorts credit of up to $200 with a minimum two night stay to the Platinum Card in 2021, I saw an opportunity to stack it with the Hilton resort credit.

The Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace is one of the few hotels in Europe that Hilton labels a resort. With its close location to Paris and a day trip to Versailles on our list of things to do, we decided to spend the last three nights of our trip there. With four people in our travel group and the strict European occupancy laws, I knew we needed two hotel rooms for three nights.

The Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace

The Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace

The cash price of the Waldorf was very low due to the off season—$236 per night. The Waldorf is an FHR hotel, and Amex allows you to use the credit for a one-night booking. I used both of our Platinum Cards to book one night, received the $200 credit and paid the additional $36 per night for two nights.

The FHR perks come with free breakfast (which we already had due to Hilton Diamond status from our Aspire), a room upgrade and a $100 food and beverage credit. Hilton points prices were 53,000 per night, so I used 159,000 Hilton Honors points (just one card sign-up bonus!) to book three of the remaining four nights. I got a refundable (not prepaid) cash rate of $236 for the last night.

In summary: I had two rooms booked for three nights at a total of 159,000 Hilton points and $308 cash ($36 + $36 + $236). I knew if I waited until checkout for Hilton to charge my Aspire for the $236 room rate, it would code from the Waldorf Astoria and American Express would issue the resort credit once the charge posted.

free trip to Paris

I knew from the 10xTravel group that my husband could call the Waldorf Astoria and fill out a card pre-authorization form so that I could use his Aspire credit during my stay. He did so, and I presented his Aspire along with mine without any problems at check-in.

Here’s where the fun came in. Both of our Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings came with a $100 food and beverage credit ($200 total), free buffet breakfast, and now I had my husband’s $250 resort credit to use as well.

Our Stay at the Waldorf Astoria in Versailles

We spent our three nights at the Waldorf Astoria in Versailles like royalty. The hotel is absolutely beautiful and a place we will never forget.

My kids still can’t get over the fact that they drank $9 Coke from a bottle! More than once!

My mom and I had several rounds of drinks in the beautiful bar area as well as a late lunch each afternoon. The included breakfast buffet was such a treat for our family, especially for my son who ate as much bacon and hot chocolate as he wanted!

Final Thoughts

The 10xTravel website and Facebook group have the best travel information anywhere on the internet. Every day, I learn something new from the incredible community of like-minded people. Traveling all over the world on a teacher’s salary is something I could never have dreamed of a few years ago!

 

All information about the Hilton Honors Aspire Card has been collected independently by 10xTravel. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through 10xTravel.