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Editors Note: Two Card Trips is a series of articles that show how you could book a trip using points/miles earned from just two different credit cards. Today’s two card trip takes us to South America with points earned from the Platinum Card by American Express and Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card.
Hey Travel Junkies,
South America is a hot travel destination, and for good reason. You can find all types of adventure in South America. You can enjoy the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, explore Buenos Aires, or see the sights in Colombia.
Getting to South America from the US is easier than ever. There are tons of daily flights between the US and major South American cities. Regardless of where you want to go, you can likely get there with little or no layovers.
In addition to easy flights, you can also get there with just a few points. In fact, with only two sign up bonuses, you can travel anywhere in South America. Below let’s explore how you can make this a reality.
Today’s piece will feature points from two cards that can get you to South America: The Platinum Card from American Express and the Hilton Honors Aspire Card by American Express.
The American Express Platinum card is a staple in the points and miles world. It currently features an offer for 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, but sometimes can be found as high as 100,000. The 100,000 is a pretty rare find, but 60,000 is enough for a trip to South America.
In addition to the points, the American Express Platinum card comes with access to Centurion Lounges, which are some of the best you’ll find anywhere. Just one of many reasons I keep this card year after year.
Additionally, the $200 airline incidental is a great way to cover bags on my preferred airline if I don’t have the right credit card to get free checked bags.
The Hilton Honors Aspire Card by American Express offers 150,000 Hilton Honors points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months. In addition to the points, you’ll earn complimentary Diamond status – the highest status available in the Hilton Honors program.
Diamond status can save you a lot of money. You’ll get free breakfast at all Hilton hotels and you’ll receive complimentary suite upgrades when available. Another great benefit is that you’ll get your fifth night free on award bookings, which will help you extend your South America trip a bit longer.
One thing you MUST know about these cards. I’m going to say this in all caps so that you don’t miss it. DO NOT GET THESE CARDS IF YOU ARE UNDER 5/24. While it’s awesome to be able to get to South America with just two cards, you will be missing out on a lot of other valuable opportunities if you don’t get Chase cards first because of the Chase 5/24 rule.
Now that you know what cards to get, and that you shouldn’t get them unless you’re past 5/24, let’s look at some of your options for staying in South America as well as how to get there.
Where to Stay
There are a lot of great options in South America within the Hilton Hotels portfolio. Let’s focus on ones where you can use the 150,000 Hilton Honors points you earn from your bonus to get at least 5 nights. Since you get your fifth night free, any hotels that cost less than 37,500 points per night will be the focus.
Keep in mind, Hilton has dynamic pricing. The points cost now may not be the same when you go to book. I’m picking some random dates to try to get a fair average, but be aware your specific dates may cost more or less than what is published here.
Colombia is a country that really has it all. You can enjoy the beaches of Cartagena or the history of Bogota, all on the points earned from your Hilton Honors Aspire Card.
In Cartagena, you can enjoy the beach-front luxury of the Conrad Cartagena. The price varies by date, but I have seen it as low as 30,000 Hilton Honors points per night. This means you can stay 6 nights (remember, your fifth night is free as a Hilton Diamond member) at this fabulous resort.
For those travelers seeking a more urban adventure, the Hilton Bogota is a great hotel in a great location. Prices tend to vary between 25,000 Honors points per night and 40,000 points per night. You can easily find dates for 25,000 points, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy Bogota for up to 7 nights.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The beach-vibe of Rio is, quite frankly, legendary. There are two great Hilton hotel options in the Rio area.
If you’re looking to stay in the middle of it all and be on the beach, the Hilton Rio De Janeiro Copacabana is the choice for you. I was able to find it for as low as 37,000 Hilton points per night, meaning you’ll be able to stay for 5 nights.
However, most nights it was right at 40,000 points per night. You could easily put some of your daily spend on your Hilton Aspire card to push you up to 160,000 points to earn the fifth night free, but otherwise, you’ll be limited to 3 nights.
If you’re looking to extend your stay a bit longer, the Hilton Barra is a great option. Centrally located, you can grab the complimentary shuttle and head to the beach in under 15 minutes. This is a great location to stretch your Hilton Honors points a bit farther. Rooms are typically only 29,000 Honors points per night, meaning you can enjoy 6 nights here.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
A bit south of Rio lies one of the cultural hubs of South America: Buenos Aires. This metropolitan area is known for its night-life and plentiful sources of adventure.
With nights starting at only 36,000 points, you can stretch your sign-up bonus to get you 5 nights at the Anselmo Buenos Aires. Situated right in the middle of the historic neighborhood of San Telmo, you’ll be able to find all the adventure you want from this Curio Collection hotel.
You’ll have a lot of great options in South America, whether you’re looking to travel to Colombia, Brazil, or Argentina. Now that you know where to stay, let’s explore how you’ll get there.
How to Get There
For traveling to South America you will be using the 60,000 points you earned as part of your welcome bonus from the American Express Platinum Card. You will want to transfer points to either Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France and KLM, or to ANA.
If you transfer to Flying Blue, flights start at 29,000 miles one-way plus $10.10 in taxes and fees. The taxes and fees will vary by destination. Thankfully, searching for award availability is very easy with Flying Blue. Simply log-in to your account and perform a search. You can select to search by flexible dates to see a month’s worth of award availability at a time.
With Flying Blue you can book SkyTeam flights. This means you will find yourself flying on either Delta or Aerolineas Argentina. You should certainly try to find availability on Delta, as Aerolineas Argentina is not known for having the best flight experience.
While booking flights with Flying Blue is a great option, the better option in my opinion is using the ANA Mileage Club. Flights on Star Alliance partners cost 55,000 miles round-trip plus taxes and fees in economy.
On this sample search from Houston, you can fly round-trip to Buenos Aires from Houston for 55,000 miles and less than $100 in taxes and fees. Like Flying Blue, ANA is fairly easy to search online and complete your booking.
ANA is part of the Star Alliance. As a member of Star Alliance, you will be flying on either Avianca, Copa, or United. All are good options and you’ll be at your destination in no time.
One caveat is that ANA awards must be booked as round-trips. So you’ll have to find award availability both to and from South America in order to complete your booking.
South America is a great place to travel. With just two cards you will be able to find an experience that fits your needs. You’ll quickly find yourself enjoying some Argentinian wine, or soaking up some sun in Rio. That’s a big trip with just two cards!
Travel in Style,
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.