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!