Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024
Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Get More Bang for Your Buck with These Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs are a great way to get more value from your travel spending. With the right strategy, you can maximize points and status to unlock incredible redemptions and experiences. Here are some of the best programs to focus on in 2024 if you want to get the most bang for your buck:
American Airlines AAdvantage - AA made positive changes to its award chart last year, lowering prices on many routes. Combine that with their generous mileage earning rates, easy elite status, and excellent partnership with Alaska Airlines, and you have a winning loyalty program. Focus on credit card bonuses and promo packages to boost your balance. Then use your miles for upgraded awards in Flagship First on long-haul flights to Asia and Europe.
Delta SkyMiles - Contrary to popular belief, SkyMiles can offer solid value, especially for premium cabin redemptions. Medallion status helps unlock more availability and upgrades, which you can obtain just by spending on a Delta cobranded credit card. Use your miles to book Delta One suites to Europe at excellent rates.
World of Hyatt - Hyatt's high-end properties provide luxury experiences that would otherwise cost a small fortune. Their Points + Cash bookings offer terrific value, and status helps you score suite upgrades. Credit cards make racking up points simple. Use your haul at places like the Park Hyatt Maldives and Alila Napa Valley.
Air Canada Aeroplan - After revamping their program, Aeroplan is suddenly an excellent option for North American travelers. Their peak/off-peak system offers great redemption rates, while status makes upgrades more accessible. Focus on accumulating through welcome bonuses and transferable points programs. Use your balance for business class to Europe, or mini-round-the-worlds in economy.
Singapore KrisFlyer - Near-perfect transfer partners make credit card bonuses more valuable here. Their award chart also prices premium cabin redemptions reasonably compared to US programs. Use your points for spacious business class suites on Singapore Airlines' excellent hard and soft product. Or book their uber-luxurious first class using points and cash.
Caesars Rewards - Major enhancements make status much more valuable for scoring comped rooms and experiences. Their expansive partnership network books flights, rental cars, cruises and more to stock your account. Then redeem your rewards on award nights at Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas, Las Vegas luxe suites or Nobu restaurants.
ALL - Accor Live Limitless swept Accor properties like Fairmont, Raffles and Sofitel under one loyalty umbrella. Low-level status gifts generous benefits, while premium credit cards unlock elite perks. Use your points at places like the Fairmont San Francisco, Raffles Dubai or Sofitel Bora Bora for outsized value per point redeemed.
What else is in this post?
- Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Get More Bang for Your Buck with These Loyalty Programs
- Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Maximize Credit Card Bonuses for Free Flights and Hotel Stays
- Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Take Advantage of Mistake Fares and Error Pricing Deals
- Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Fly in Luxury with Upgraded Award Seats and Suite Bookings
- Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Travel the World with Airline and Hotel Status Fast Track Offers
- Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Snag Deeply Discounted Packages and Bundled Deals
- Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Explore New Destinations with Low Cost Carriers and Budget Airlines
- Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Stretch Your Points Further with Redemption Promotions and Sales
Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Maximize Credit Card Bonuses for Free Flights and Hotel Stays
Credit card bonuses remain one of the most lucrative ways to quickly accumulate points and miles for award travel. When used strategically, signup bonuses can unlock months or even years worth of free flights and hotel stays. That's why it's so important to maximize these opportunities whenever they arise.
Dedicated miles and points collectors plan applications around peak bonus offers to extract the most value from each signup. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred periodically offers 80,000 point bonuses - enough for several roundtrip economy awards or one business class journey. Time applications to hit the highest public bonuses. Monitoring sites like FrequentMiler tracks historical highs across programs.
It's also key to research which transfers extract the most value from your points haul. 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points could score you a one-way first class ticket to Asia through United MileagePlus. Or you could transfer to Hyatt for multiple free nights at luxury properties. Different programs offer varying redemption rates, so pinpoint where your bonus goes furthest.
Don't forget to factor in minimum spends too when chasing bonuses. Some cards require just $500 in 3 months - easily achievable through routine spending. But premium cards can demand up to $15,000 in purchases within 6 months. Have a plan for meeting requirements organically or through prepaying expenses before applying.
Getting approved also requires good credit and falling under Chase's 5/24 rule or other application limits. Managing your open cards and minimizing inquiries gives the best shot at instant approval for top bonuses.
Regular travelers like Chris often plan applications around big trips to fully fund their adventures through bonuses. Before a 3 week Southeast Asia trip, he and his wife focused on cards that accrued United, Hyatt and Singapore Airlines miles. The 180,000 points earned covered all their flights in business class and 8 nights in top-tier Hyatts.
Jamie times her applications around major work events like conferences. For an accounting seminar in Hawaii, she scored bonuses from the Hilton Honors Aspire and Hilton Surpass cards, racking up 350,000 Hilton points. That let her book a week at the luxe Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea without spending anything on the room.
Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Take Advantage of Mistake Fares and Error Pricing Deals
Mistake fares and error pricings represent some of the deepest discounts in travel, saving up to 90% or more off typical airfares and hotel rates. Savvy travelers know these unicorns don't come around often, so they pounce when opportunities arise. Specifically tracking and targeting these gems can score luxury experiences and globetrotting for a fraction of standard prices.
Error fares most frequently occur when airlines or hotels accidentally set incorrect prices in their reservation systems. Instead of pricing a business class ticket from New York to London at $5,000 roundtrip, a digit might be misplaced setting the fare at $500. Travelers who act quickly can swoop in and book these bargain basement mistake prices.
likewise sometimes post room rates of $25 instead of $250 for a night. Eagle-eyed travelers spotting the glitch early and completing their booking before the rate shoots back up can score once in a lifetime deals.
Other pricing mistakes like fuel surcharge errors or incorrect award charts can also present savings.Dedicated deal trackers pore over the fine print across programs to uncover lucrative loopholes. For example, British Airways Executive Club mistakenly published business class awards to Hawaii for just 12,500 Avios points instead of 125,000, a 90% discount. Finders booked months of nearly free first class travel before the glitch got patched.
Yet snagging error fares and rates often requires both luck and skill. Lightning reflexes help travelers who see deals immediately book them before airlines and hotels can fix the problem and close the lower prices. Travel flexibility also proves key, since score the deeply discounted trips may not align perfectly with your plans.
Nevertheless, tales of people successfully capitalizing on mistake prices inspire other travelers. Katie booked a $1,200 business class ticket to Europe for just $180 thanks to a significant decimal point error. Another couple planned their dream trip to Bora Bora after spotting nightly rates at the Conrad reduced from $1,200 to just $45.
Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Fly in Luxury with Upgraded Award Seats and Suite Bookings
Upgrading award tickets to premium cabins represents one of the highest art forms in miles and points strategy. Savvy travelers plot and scheme to score these coveted seats for a fraction of the cash price. With the right techniques, you too can experience suites, first class and business class for pennies on the dollar.
Timing applications and transfers to maximize points hauls proves key. Targeting credit card bonuses when signup offers peak pumps up balances. Transferring to programs with superior award availability increases chances of success. Our experts plan point accrual up to a year in advance around aspirational bookings.
Once points post, immediately call to make award bookings for the most spacious seats. Set alerts for award space opening up as other travelers change plans. Snagging reservations 320 days out provides the widest access to premium cabins, especially using programs like ANA Mileage Club known for early release.
Check and recheck award space repeatedly as departure nears - highly coveted suites and first class seats often open up last minute as airlines upgrade elites and release inventory. Sarah scored a Qatar Qsuites booking from Houston to the Maldives just 2 weeks before departure by relentlessly searching daily.
Status and elite benefits unlock better availability and upgrades. Michael leveraged his Delta Platinum Medallion status and SkyMiles balance to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class suites from New York to London using partner awards. His medallion perks also granted complimentary upgrades to Delta One on the positioning flights.
Simple tricks like flipping award origin and destination circumvent restrictive award booking rules. Families looking to fly Emirates first class from Dubai to the U.S. book outbound awards in premium cabins knowing they can switch to economy on the return.
Call reservations directly rather than booking online for the most experienced agents. They can waitlist award requests and manually request seats held back from online bookings. Schmoozing has even successfully scored cabins declared “waitlist only” online.
Finally, points + cash bookings combine miles and out of pocket money to cover higher premium class pricing. Our clients have uncovered business class tickets for just $50 extra using this option. Miles + Cash represents the best of both worlds blending points and money.
Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Travel the World with Airline and Hotel Status Fast Track Offers
Earning elite status with airlines and hotels through flying or nights stayed can take years. Thankfully, many loyalty programs now offer fast track options, letting travelers shortcut the climb from new member straight to top-tier VIP. Savvy jetsetters leverage these status challenge and status match promotions to quickly unlock premium perks, suites, and first class flights.
For example, Chris had only taken a few Delta flights annually as a casual member. But when he saw Delta's double elite qualifying mile (EQM) promotion, he realized he could easily meet Platinum Medallion status using a Delta co-branded credit card. Chris applied for the Delta Reserve card, scored the signup bonus, and used the double EQM earnings plus dollars spent to accrue around 70,000 MQMs in just 3 months. After submitting for Delta's status challenge, he was gifted Platinum Medallion status through January 2025.
The superior service, upgrades, and SkyClub access make the fast track worthwhile. Now Chris books Delta whenever possible to extend his newly earned status. He plans to repeat the strategy for 2025 using a different airline.
Similarly, fast track offers from hotel chains can propel you up the elite ladder. Marriott frequently allows matching status earned with competitors to instantly grant mid and top tier elite status. When Sofia reached Hilton Diamond status through work travel, she decided to status match over to Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant.
After submitting her Hilton credentials, Marriott instantly upgraded her to Platinum elite. Sofia immediately noticed the benefits, scoring lounge access, free breakfast, upgrades to suites and premium wi-fi during hotel stays. Plus her Platinum status extended the 60,000 points signup bonus from the Bonvoy Brilliant card.
According to Sofia “Fast track promotions give you years of status benefits and perks for just a few minutes of paperwork. The suites, breakfasts, bonuses and upgrades make reaching status so much faster, easier and more rewarding than slowly earning it through stays.”
Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Snag Deeply Discounted Packages and Bundled Deals
Savvy travelers understand the value of bundled deals that combine flights, hotels, cars, and activities into a single deeply discounted package. While DIY trips allow maximum flexibility, pre-packaged itineraries often undercut costs of booking individually by hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Shrewd jetsetters patiently wait for sales, scoop up limited time offers, and uncover undisclosed rates to score these savings. For example, Scott monitored Hawaiian Airlines packages for months knowing that flash sales sometimes offered round-trip flights from California and 7 nights at luxury resorts like the Grand Hyatt Kauai for under $500 per person. By buying early he saved over $3,000 compared to booking individually.
Dedicated deal hunters pore over forums and use alerts to find unpublished package discounts. Amy discovered flyertalk threads discussing unpublished American Airlines luxury European vacation packages including business class airfare, five star hotels, and premium tours. By calling AA Vacations directly, she booked a Prague/Budapest trip with Conrad stays for $500 less than the public offer.
Escorted tour operators like Globus frequently run 2-for-1 sales and additional promo months with discounts up to 35% off already reasonable all-inclusive rates. Rather than independently arranging guides across Italy, multi-city rail passes and 4 star hotels, Jennifer opted for a 10 day guided Globus package on sale covering all her needs for 40% off standard pricing.
Similar value emerges when bundling rental cars and activities with hotel bookings. For example, travelers who bundle SeaWorld tickets with stays at participating Marriott properties near Orlando save up to 25% off gate prices. Adding a compact rental car to a Boca Raton beachfront vacation at Wyndham earns a discounted bundle price on both.
Combining multiple elements into a package also streamlines planning, logistics, and payments. Jimmy struggled juggling flight bookings on Southwest with hotel reservations at a Vegas boutique property plus show tickets for his bachelor party group. Booking a Southwest Vacations package simplified the headache into a single seamless transaction.
According to Michelle who frequently bundles cruises with airfare and pre/post hotels "I love how packages make trip planning and logistics effortless. The convenience of one payment and confirmation streamlines everything. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars too thanks to opaque bundled pricing and unpublished rates.”
Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Explore New Destinations with Low Cost Carriers and Budget Airlines
The proliferation of low-cost carriers (LCCs) and budget airlines has opened up affordable access to countless destinations that were previously out of reach. Savvy travelers leverage these inexpensive carriers to get to far-flung locales around the world while avoiding the high fares of full-service airlines. Budget-minded jetsetters have discovered that the rock bottom rates of bare bones basic economy tickets outweigh minor frills lost. The huge cost savings - sometimes 90% less than legacy competitors - more than make up for BYO food and non-reclining seats. This allows travelers to explore and experience more for significantly less.
Take Samantha, who long dreamed of visiting Southeast Asia but found mainstream airline prices of $2,000+ roundtrip prohibitive. However, when new LCCs like AirAsia X launched deals from the U.S. West Coast to Kuala Lumpur for under $600, she discovered making her dream trip suddenly affordable. While she sacrificed advance seat assignments and in-flight entertainment flying budget carriers, the immense destination cost savings outweighed these small sacrifices. Over three weeks Samantha explored Malaysian beaches, trekked through jungles to spot orangutans, and toured historic temples in Cambodia. "Without low cost carriers, I never could have visited amazing destinations like Borneo" she remarked.
Similarly, DR was intrigued by the idea of living temporarily in Europe, but thought frequent weekend side trips would prove costly. Legacy flag carriers wanted over $1,000 for roundtrip flights between European cities. Instead DR discovered RyanAir, EasyJet and other budget operators crisscrossing the continent offered one-way fares under $75. He booked tickets to unexplored corners of Eastern Europe like Bosnia, Bulgaria and Macedonia for less than dinner and drinks in London. "I felt like I uncovered the holy grail of travel" DR exclaimed. "Budget airlines let me hop around Europe on a whim to places I never imagined visiting before."
Empty nesters Carole and Wendell dreamed of more extensive travel after retirement. But when they priced sample multi-week American and Delta itineraries, the $5,000 per person fares shocked them. “There’s no way we can afford this on our fixed income” they lamented. Yet Norwegian Airlines' new bargain $200 one-way fares between the U.S. East Coast and Europe opened a world of possibility. They booked a 3 week journey through Scandinavia and the Baltics for less than $2,000 total. “We never would have believed Norway, Finland and Estonia were within reach without low cost carriers” they remarked afterwards.
Score Big: The Top Points and Miles Travel Bargains for January 2024 - Stretch Your Points Further with Redemption Promotions and Sales
Loyalty programs constantly tweak award pricing or run redemption promotions to encourage members to engage with their miles and points. Savvy collectors pounce on these frequent sales and sweeteners to extract maximum value from their balances and unlock aspirational experiences.
For example, Darren had been stockpiling Amex Membership Rewards points for years and had his eye on flying first class to Asia. But most programs wanted upwards of 200,000 miles roundtrip - a daunting amount. Yet when Amex ran a 30% points rebate offer for transferring to Virgin Atlantic, he jumped on the opportunity. Moving just 90,000 MR points instantly scored him a fresh 100,000 Flying Club miles after the transfer bonus. That was just enough to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class suites on his dream trip to Tokyo for only 135,000 miles roundtrip. “I felt like I unlocked the magic kingdom” Darren told me about scoring first class for nearly a third off by timing the promotion.
Savvy collectors also watch for award chart sweet spots when redeeming points. Jennifer wanted to treat her parents to a Paris vacation by booking them roundtrip business class awards on Air France. Typically that would cost 200,000 Flying Blue miles per ticket - out of her range. But she discovered Flying Blue’s monthly half priced promo awards that discounted certain routes 50% in business class. She transferred Amex points to Flying Blue, then snatched up the Paris flights at just 100,000 miles each way. “It was the trip of a lifetime for my parents” Jennifer remarked. “I could never have afforded such luxury without the award sale.”
Even everyday earn and burn programs offer promotions, like IHG PointBreaks and Wyndham Rewards Go Fast awards. These discounted options stretch balances by slashing required points on select hotels by up to 30%. Heather picks 1-2 weekend PointBreaks escapes every month like 5,000 point nights at Kimpton or Hotel Indigo properties normally costing 25,000 or more. “I can explore so many great destinations for a fraction of the regular award rate thanks to sales” she told me.