How I am flying to Chicago for just $11 and 5800 points!

This is another post in the How I am Series of articles that show you the nuts and bolts of how I play the free travel game.Chicago Bean Link

They say luck is when preparation meets opportunity and I am a very lucky guy.  When I saw that my friend and Incorrect Records label boss Anthony Attalla was spinning at a birthday party at Spybar in Chicago in May, I was on the lookout for a deal on award tickets.  I just scored round trip airfare for just $11 and 5800 Southwest points which is a steal! I’m going to do this one a bit differently and break this deal down backwards. Continue reading “How I am flying to Chicago for just $11 and 5800 points!”

It’s First Friday! 3X Points on Restaurants and Bars for Chase Sapphire Preferred cards.

First Friday is one of those things I have been wanting to write about but kept missing.  Well today I will check it off my list.  People who follow this blog know that I love my Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  The 2X miles on Travel and Restaurant expenses really adds up for me since that is so much of what I spend.ChaseSapphirePreferred

Well today they are giving you an extra bonus point on the Restaurant category (which normally includes bars and clubs too) for a total of 3 points for ever dollar!  So go out to happy hour if needed and offer to pick up the check!  Or do the old “I’ll put it all on my credit card and take the cash” trick.  That way you can get triple miles on the total amount of the bill that will help you get closer to your next free trip!

You don’t have to do anything special, the bonus is applied automatically today so enjoy the extra points!

While you are at it, why not double dip at one of the locations where you can get Miles For Meals for an extra 5 miles per dollar spent!

As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!  And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested using the handy social share buttons right below this post!

Should I get a cashback or a miles card?

Reader Javier asked recently in the comments on this article: “Keith turned me on to your site on Facebook. I wanted a little direction. I have the Capital one Venture card with 2x per dollar spent. I crunched the numbers for last month and if I switched to the Chase card I would be down about 3200 points/miles. Capital One doesn’t necessarily use the miles redeem system, they just reimburse you for the travel based on the amount of the ticket. How would I be able to utilize your system with Capital One?”Credit Card Question Mark

I started writing a quick reply but it quickly got more involved with examples so I wanted to make this into a more comprehensive post that I could refer people to in the future since this is a common question. This is a long post, but read and digest it slowly because it is an important one. If you don’t want all the details, skip to the bottom to the Conclusion TLDR section.

What is the difference between a cashback card and a miles card? Continue reading “Should I get a cashback or a miles card?”

Book Fast! 8 Amazing Pointbreaks Hotels for 5,000 Points til 9/30!

IHG Pointbreaks are a list of 5000 point per night hotel awards that they release every other month. There are 167 hotels on the list this time.  They are normally much more per night, sometimes as much as 50,000 points, so 5000 is a steal!   I love IHG Pointbreaks Hotels!  In my eyes this is the best value in hotel award stays.  I stayed 11 nights for free (55,000 points total!) during my April trip to China at incredible hotels like the Intercontinental Hangzhou. intercontinental Hangzhou Continue reading “Book Fast! 8 Amazing Pointbreaks Hotels for 5,000 Points til 9/30!”

How I am flying to the Riverwest Festival in Chicago for $5!

This is another article in our How I Am series that shows you the nuts and bolts of redeeming miles for Award Travel.

People who follow this blog know I love traveling, techno and deep house music.  Wherever possible, I try to combine my passions.  This is one of those times.  I just planned a last minute trip to go to the RiverWest Festival in Chicago over the 4th of July. When my friend ToDD from Chicago first showed me the flyer, I was in heaven!  He told me if I got up there I could stay in his apartment so I wouldn’t even need a hotel for this trip.Riverwest PosterPlanning this trip is a prime example of why it is important to get the miles and points before you need them so when you want to do something you have options. If you still haven’t gotten started with miles, why not check out our Getting Started page.  Everything on it is free and it will only take you about 45 mins to complete.

I was able to use points I had from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to book this whole trip.  Since Southwest and British Airways are both transfer partners of Ultimate Rewards (which is the type of points the Sapphire Preferred earns), I was able to look at both Southwest and British Airways when looking for available award flights.  And since you can book American Airlines flights using British Airways Avios and save tons of miles (see this article about when to use BA miles vs American miles), that meant I could look at Southwest flights and American Airlines flights.

On the outbound I found this great non stop American Airlines flight from Nashville (where I am located right now) for just 4500 British Airways Avios and $2!  Miami was available as well.  I transferred 5K Ultimate Rewards points over to my British Airways account to book this ticket.  I put the $2 on my Chase British Airways card since it gives me 2.5 Avios per dollar on any BA spend (hey, every little bit helps!).


If I had booked this exact same ticket with American Airlines miles (for the exact same flight on the exact same plane), it would have cost me 12,500 miles and $77 ($2 plus a $75 last minute booking fee).  Score!

Now getting back was a little more complicated.  There were no saver American Airline seats available on Monday (which is what I need to have to be able to book the seats using British Airways Avios), so if I used American miles, it would have to be an AAnytime award.  That would mean 25,000 miles one way!  No Thank You!

I looked at Southwest going out of Chicago Midway airport (both airports are easy to get to from Chicago) and found a great award seat available late in the evening so I would have time to hit any after parties and still sleep some!MDW-BNASo for 4500+9507=14007 Ultimate Rewards points and $4.50 I was able to get this trip booked (OK, it was even less than $5!).  Keep in mind that I got more Ultimate Rewards points than this last week with the Amex Gift Card promotion I wrote about so this was a no brainer! Even better since with Southwest you can cancel any time up to 15 minutes before your flight and get all of your points back, if the American non stop opens up Saver seats between now and then, then I can book that flight back using BA miles and drop the total cost from 14K to 9K!

This little exercise is a prime example of why Ultimate Rewards points are so valuable.  If I had just had Southwest points or American Miles or British Airways Avios, then I wouldn’t have had all of the options that I did.  And having those options is what made this trip a great value! Getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best way to get started with Ultimate Rewards so click here to apply today!

Have any of you booked a trip that you thought was a good value?  Comment and show off your planning skills below!  As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!

TWM, Take Me Away to the World Cup 2014 for free!

This is another in our Take Me Away series of articles.  We first showed you how to get to Bali for free and then tackled Costa Rica.  I took my own advice and ended up flying to Costa Rica last month for only $45!  If you don’t have miles yet, take 30-45 minutes and complete our free Getting Started page so you will be ready next time 

World Cup 2014World Cup madness is upon us and I wanted to see what last minute trips were available with miles to get you to Brazil.  Since the matches are scattered around Brazil over a large timeframe, this was a perfect opportunity to come up with some creative frequent flyer tickets!  Here are some of the options I found using my article on How to Search OneWorld availability using  Once I found available flights I priced them out following the article on How to book OneWorld flights with British Airways Miles.  

British Airways is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards.  You can transfer miles earned from the 40,000 point bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, or the 60,000 point bonus of the Chase Ink Bold, or the book directly with 50,000 Avios bonus of the Chase British Airways card.

Option 1:  Sao Paulo

SAO World CupThere is TONS of availability for this city.  You could use this as a jumping off point for many of the other cities.  To keep things simple (and the milage costs down), I am only going to focus on the non stop available awards.  For just 50,000 Avios + $88 you could fly down from Miami and see three world cup matches!MIA-GRU

For those of you not in Miami, British Airways may not be the cheapest option (but it probably still will be), so check out the American flights for 60,000 AA or US Airways Miles and $118 from anywhere in the continental US.  The Citibank AA Mastercard currently has a 50K sign up bonus and the US Airways Card has a 40K bonus after spending $1.  You would just need to find connecting flights from your city to Miami where there are award seats using the tools we linked to above.MIA-GRU AA

Option 2: Recife

RecifeFor the non stop there is only availability after the USA match but you could see the first match of the Round of 16. You could spend the rest of the time on the beautiful beaches of Recife! For only 40,000 Avios (the same amount as the sign on bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred) + $88 you could see this historic match!MIA-REC BAYou could do the same thing from anywhere in the US for the higher price of 60,000 AA miles + $118.

Option 3: Rio de Janeiro

Rio World CupHow does this sound for the ultimate long weekend?  Fly into Rio on Thursday night, July 3, arrive at 5 in the morning on July 4, attend the quarter finals that day at the famous Estádio Maracanã, then celebrate through the weekend in Rio then fly back out on Sunday July 6.  For only 50,000 Avios (the exact amount of the sign up bonus on the Chase British Airways Visa) or 60,000 American Miles, you can do it!  And there are two seats available so you can take a friend with you!MIA-RIO World Cup

Option 4: Brasilia

Brasilia World CupYou can’t make the Colombia match unfortunately for the cheapest miles price, but you can make it for 3 matches including the Quarter-finals in the amazing city of Brasilia for only 40,000 Avios (which you could get from the sign up bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred) and $91!MIA-BSB World CupLike the other options you could travel from anywhere else in the US using 60,000 American miles once you find your connecting flights to Miami.

Option 5: Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte World CupFor just 40,000 Avios and $88 you can leave in two days and see Argentina, Costa Rica, and England play, and also catch the first round of 16 match in Belo Horizonte, one of the most beautiful cities in all of Brazil!MIA-CNF BAAs with the others, 60K AA miles is also an option if you aren’t located in Miami.

Bonus Option 6 for my Colombian Friends

I have so many Colombian Friends I had to include an option to see your match vs Japan in CuiabáBrazil on June 24.  Since Cuiabá is such a small airport, I couldn’t find frequent flyer seats there so you would need to buy a ticket from Sao Paulo to there for $78.MIA-GRU One WayGRU-CGBYou could then buy another $65 ticket from Cuiabá to Brasilia to catch your frequent flyer ticket back from there.CGB-BSB BSB-MIA Colombia

This gives you a total cost of 45,000 Avios and $234.  Which still isn’t too bad to see your country play in the world cup!  A better option might be to predict where they will play in the Round of 16 and go there since I am sure they will be making it through!


You would still need hotels and tickets to the games but there are a ton of options available to you when you get the flights there for cheap.  Using the tools I have provided above you can look for the flights and cities that match up with your favorite teams.  That Rio option is looking awfully tempting to me.  I think those two seats are going to go quickly once this article is published!

Feel free to comment on what other good options you found and tell me which matches you think would be the best to watch! As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!

Ibiza 2013: Part 6 – The Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt

This is the sixth post in a series about my 2013 trip to Ibiza for the closing parties. Part of the free plane tickets were funded by the 40,000 point sign up bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I redeemed 135,000 points for First Class flights from Miami to Ibiza on Lufthansa.

In the points and miles world, the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is the stuff of legends.  A whole separate terminal at the airport restricted to just First Class passengers.  And not just any first class passengers: Only Lufthansa First Class passengers.  A place where unicorns roam freely and mermaids serve you drinks out of a conch shell.  Well, maybe I am exaggerating a bit there, but it is awesome.  Let’s start with the building itself which is completely separate from the main terminal.

photo 5You can either enter at the dedicated drop off area on the top floor, or walk over like I did from the main terminal and enter on the bottom level then take the elevator up.  As soon as you get there, someone quickly approaches you, confirms your Lufthansa First Class status and gets your personal concierge for your time in the FCT.  At this time, they will take your checked baggage and lead you through a dedicated metal detector before you enter the terminal. My first stop was the sleeping area for a nap since I arrived right when the terminal opened at 5:30 AM and I was still a bit worn from Ibiza.IMG_7019My flight didn’t leave until 2:15 PM so I had time for a couple of hours nap before my flight left. My next stop was a relaxing soak in the bathtubs they provide in their shower rooms (yes, they have bathtubs in the airport lounge).photo 4They had an assortment of Etro products to choose from to make your soak and / or shower a pampered 3 (1)I was upset to find out that they were out of the signature Lufthansa Rubber Duckies that come when you reserve one of the bathrooms with a tub.  They did have a nice selection of past duckies that my friend Scott would love.IMG_7044I then took a stroll around the terminal and checked out the extensive amenities.  My first stop was the cigar lounge.
IMG_7020There was a nice selection of complimentary stogies.IMG_7043The lounge was very comfortable and had all sort of chairs that you could lounge in depending on your mood.
IMG_7021I started with an excellent Bloody Mary from the attentive bartender.IMG_7026I was a bit hungry at this point so I decided to try their sit down complimentary dining that was available. They had an Oktoberfest special going on.IMG_7024You could also order from a comprehensive menu.IMG_7036I decided to just roam around the buffet and see what looked good.
The freshly shaved pork was particularly yummy.IMG_7034For drinks they had a comprehensive water bar.  Yes this is a whole bar of different types of water from around the world.IMG_7030If you wanted something a little stronger they also had an area devoted to other liquors including a ton of different whiskies.IMG_7031After I ate, I still had a few hours to relax before my flight and have a few beverages.
IMG_7022I have a pretty big sweet tooth so I was happy to see all sorts of candies spread out through the terminal.IMG_7025If you needed to get some work done or check your Facebook, they had private offices available with computers.IMG_7027They had these things called “PowerKiss” that you could get for your phone to wirelessly charge it on any of the tables around the lounge.IMG_7029I found these amazing rocking massage chairs and was in heaven.

IMG_7028Just when I got comfortable in this chair, an attendant came up to me and asked for my passport so he could go get my immigration stamps and he offered me some champagne.  Ummmm, I don’t mind if I do!  He brought back my passport when it was time to board and took me downstairs to the limousine department for my Mercedes ride over to my waiting plane.
IMG_7045I have to admit that the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt surpassed all of my expectations.  This is truly a different way to fly and now that I have experienced it, I want more! 🙂 If this sounds like something you would enjoy (and really who wouldn’t enjoy this) then why not apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred today and get 40,000 points as a sign on bonus?

In our final article, I will review the First Class flight home on Lufthansa that was in their old first class seating.

As always, feel free to comment with any questions and follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

7 Ways to fly to the Movement Festival in Detroit for free

IMG_6105One of my favorite festivals I attend each year is the Movement Festival in Detroit over Memorial Day weekend.  I truly believe it is the best techno focused festival in the US each year.  Last year I went with a friend to Detroit for only $10.  Since this is the next big festival many of my readers are thinking about attending, I’m going to show you what you can do now to get free flights there from Miami (but many of the options should apply wherever you are coming from).

1. Pay cash for the plane ticket.

Current prices are  $218 (departing Friday, May 23)  or $240 (Departing Saturday, May 24) on Delta Airlines.  This obviously isn’t a free option, but I wanted to include it so you can compare its cost to the other options and see what value you are getting for the points you are redeeming.fll-dtw

2. Use part of the 40,000 Mile Bonus of the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® to pay cash for the plane ticket. Value – 1.25 cents per mile.

Apply for the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® card and use 21,800 Miles of the 40,000 Mile sign on bonus to pay for a ticket.  You will get an automatic rebate of 2,180 Miles (10%) back into your Arrival mileage account.  You will get 2255 Skymiles since you are basically paying cash for the ticket as far as Delta is concerned. You could consider the true cost of this option as 21,800 – 2180 – 2255 = 17365 because of the rebates and miles you will earn.  Read our full review on the Arrival Card here.  ArrivalBanner

3. Use part of the 40,000 Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus to book Southwest flights using points. Value – 2.2 Cents / Point

Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and transfer 10,940 of the 40,000 point bonus to Southwest Airlines where you can book an award seat using those points. Read our full review on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card here.

SWA-FLL-DTW4. Use part of the 50,000 Chase Rapid Rewards Plus bonus to book Southwest flights using points. Value – 2.2 Cents / Point

Apply for the Chase Rapid Rewards Plus card and use 10,940 of the 50,000 point bonus to book an award seat using those points (same flights apply as the picture on option 3).

5. Use part of the 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus to book American flights using British Airways Avios. Value – 1.2 Cents / point

Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and transfer 20,000 of the 40,000 point bonus to British Airways Avios where you can book an American Airlines award seat using those points. Read our article on how to book American Flights with British Airways Avios if you aren’t familiar with that process.  Read our full review on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card here.BA-MIA-DTW

6. Use part of the 50,000 Avios British Airways Mastercard bonus to book American flights using British Airways Avios. Value – 1.2 Cents / point

Apply for the British Airways card and use 20,000 of the 50,000 Avios Bonus to book an American Award seat using Avios (same flights apply as in option 5).  Read our article on how to book American Flights with British Airways Avios if you aren’t familiar with that process.

7. Shop online with Rapid Rewards shopping to earn the 10,940 points needed for a Southwest Award flight. Value – unlimited if it is for purchases you would have made anyways.

Rapid Rewards ShoppingThis will be the only option available for those without good credit since you can use your debit card or even a prepaid card.  There are hundreds of merchants you can shop with and get points for every dollar that you spend.  If you were planning on making these purchases anyways then you can end up with completely free points to redeem for your tickets!  Some of the high earning merchants right now are 12 points / $1 at, 10 points / 1$ at Rosetta Stone, 7 points / $1 at Snapfish, 4 points / $1 at Advance Auto Parts, or 3 points / $1 at Groupon.  If you aren’t familiar with how to make miles and points with online shopping, read our article on how to make mega miles shopping online!


As you can see, the best value for your miles is in option 3 and 4, followed by option 2, then option 5 and 6.  If you don’t have a lot of miles, then option 1 isn’t a bad choice while the fares stay low.  As the fares go up, the free ticket options will go up in value. I personally will probably be using option 3 since I have so many Ultimate Rewards points.

As always, feel free to comment with any questions and follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

TWM, Take Me Away to Bali, Indonesia for free!

This is the first in a series of articles called TWM Take Me Away! where I will pick a destination a reader wants to go to and show you how to get there for free with miles!

A reader contacted me recently:

“I am taking the time to message you right now because I want to go to Bali at the end of August for my birthday and I’m trying to figure out how much to save to have. And also around what months should l look into buying a flight ticket.”

Bali is definitely on my bucket list due to the amazing culture , beautiful scenery and friendly people.Bali


I priced out a ticket around those dates on and the cheapest I could find was $1401 on Delta for JFK to DPS (the airport in Bali) via LAX and TPE which seemed like a decent price since you are flying halfway around the world.  Business class was over $6,000!  But the name of this site is Traveling With Miles not Traveling with Cash, so lets see how we can get there for free.

1. Use 70,000 or 110,000 American AAdvantage Miles to book OneWorld flights.

According to the American Airlines OneWorld chart on this page, you can go from North America to 70,000 Miles round trip in economy class and 110,000 Miles Round trip in business class. I checked and there is some availability on Cathay Pacific which has a great business class product if you can be flexible on dates throughout August.

Cathay Business
Cathay Pacific New Business Class Seats

It is a 15 hour flight from JFK to HKG so I would definitely recommend business class.  As a general rule, for any flight 5 hours or more, I try to do business class if I have the miles because it makes the experience much more pleasant.

If you wanted to get these miles, you could get 50,000 from the Citibank AA Platinum Personal MC, then wait 65 days and apply for the 50,000 Mile Citibank AA Platinum Business Mastercard.  That will give you more than enough for a coach ticket and almost enough for the business class seat.  With a some of our online shopping deals for American Miles, you should be able to make the difference up easily.

2. Use 65,000 or 120,000 United miles to book on Star Alliance

This price will change drastically on February 1 when United changes their award chart so if you happen to want to book this trip, do it now.  I just did a search and found a coach flight departing from EWR to DPS via TPE on EVA and then returning from DPS to EWR via TPE and LAX (on EVA and United on the way back).United Bali CoachThere was also business class availability for 120,000 and $25!

United Bali BusinessNote that these prices will be going up to 80,000 for coach and 160,000 for business after February 1.

To get these miles, you could start with the 40,000 miles from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card you get after spending $3,000.  After 93 days (the minimum for chase to apply for multiple personal cards) you could get another 50,000 from the Chase United Explorer (will need to be logged into your MileagePlus account to see this offer).  You could also take advantage of some online shopping for miles like I did with the 1800 Miles for $75 shopping and 12-16X Miles shopping at Sears.

3. Use 80,000 or 120,000 Delta miles or 70,000 or 125,000 Korean Air to book on SkyTeam

Korean Air Prestige Seat
Korean Air Prestige Seat

I have included two options here because you may have either type of mile.  I picked up 30,000 Delta Miles when I got a Suntrust debit card, and 100,000 when I did some Skymall shopping.  I am also including Korean Air because they are a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards which might be easier to earn miles with. FYI, the Delta business prices are going up February 1, and the Korean Air prices are going up on June 1.

If you can find availability on Korean Air flights (which you could book with either type of mile) for JFK to DPS via ICN (Seoul), then you should be able to get the above pricing if you are flexible about your travel dates.

To get these miles you could get 30-50,000 Skymiles by getting the Delta Amex card at this link. But I would recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for 40,000 Ultimate Reward Points, then getting the Chase Ink Bold for 50,000 more.


Grand Hyatt Bali
Grand Hyatt Bali

For hotels, it looks like the best values are either the Grand Hyatt property or use cash and points at one of the SPG properties.1. For 12,000 Hyatt Gold Points per night you can stay at the Grand Hyatt Bali

W Bali
W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak

2. For 10,000 SPG points + $180 cash a night you can stay at the W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak.  This can be especially rewarding if you have Platinum status with SPG and could possibly get upgraded to a suite.

Le Meridien Bali
Le Meridien Bali

3. For 6000 SPG points and $110 a night you can stay at the Le Meridien Bali

Sheraton Senggigi
Sheraton Senggigi

4. And for only 3000 SPG points per night you can stay in the super secluded Sheraton Senggigi (although it is on a different island than bali so you might have to find your way there)

For the Grand Hyatt property, they are a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards so the Chase Sapphire Preferred 40,000 bonus could help you out. For the SPG properties, the 25,000 mile bonus from the SPG Amex and the SPG Business Amex could get you some free nights.

5. Another good option might be to get the Barclays Arrival card and then use the $400 sign up bonus (40,000 points you can redeem for $400 in travel expenses) just pay cash for a reasonably priced hotel or hostel or bed and breakfast you find there.

Whew!  That was a lot of information!  But I hope that this shows you how you can get to Bali for free with a little planning.

As always, feel free to comment with any questions and follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!