TWM, Take Me Away to Croatia for Free!

Don’t forget to enter our TravelWithMiles Guru contest that ends Friday.  A free plane ticket to Cancun is guaranteed but maybe even more!

This is another in our Take Me Away series of articles.  We first showed you how to get to Bali for free then tackled Costa Rica, then showed you how to get to the World Cup!  I took my own advice and ended up flying to Costa Rica in May 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.


When I dug into how to get to Croatia using miles, I checked the main three alliances of OneWorld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance for routing to Croatia.  If you want to know more about alliances and how they work read our ABC’s of Airline Alliances article.

What I found was that to get to Split, Croatia (which is on the coast and where Yacht Week Croatia leaves from ), Star Alliance had the best routes and availability.  Skyteam only can route you to Split through Moscow so I eliminated that option.  That leaves Star Alliance and OneWorld so today we will show 2 different ways to get to Croatia for free!

Option 1: Use 60,000 or 100,000 United Miles

Star Alliance has the best routing and availability to get to Croatia and you can get there for 60,000 United Miles in coach or 140,000 United Miles in Business Class. We looked for seats in June 2015 and found several options such as Miami to Split via Frankfurt on Lufthansa for 60K + $139.
MIA-SPU United If you have the miles, Business Class across the pond is always preferred.  Although with the extra connection in Lisbon and the miles savings even I might choose coach over 140K + $139.MIA-SPU United BizGetting these miles is actually quite easy.  I would recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with its 40,000 point sign on bonus then transferring those points to United.  For the remaining 20K miles, I would Spend Money Without Spending Money, or Get Frequent Flyer Miles by Paying your Rent or Mortgage.

You could also get the Chase Ink Bold card with its 50K bonus and get the remaining 10K from the same ways listed above, or of course, just normal spending.

You could also get the United Explorer Card which will give you 30K to 50K depending on what your account is targeted for. You may have to be logged into your United account to see the higher bonus.

Option 2: Use 60,000 or 100K American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

For this one award seats aren’t available yet for next summer so I searched for this summer to see what sorts of flights would be available, and it doesn’t look good.  3 connections and two overnights on the way home for 60K miles and $311 in fees and taxes.


To get the miles you could just pick up the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with it’s 40K bonus after spending $1 or the Citibank AA Platinum Personal MC with its 50K bonus after spending $3000.  Make up the different in miles needed by Spending Money Without Spending Money, or Getting Frequent Flyer Miles by Paying your Rent or Mortgage.

Finding Business Class options for 100K was a challenge so if you wanted to fly Biz you would need to be even more flexible with your dates and routing.


As you can see, the Star Alliance / United option is really much better than any of the other ways to get there.  That is what I would focus on to get there.  Since Croatia and Europe are much more popular in the Summer, now is the perfect time to start getting your miles together for a trip next year.

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!

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!

TWM, Take Me Away to Costa Rica for free!

Costa RicaThis is the second in our Take Me Away series of articles.  Last time we showed you how to get to Bali for free and today we are going to tackle Costa Rica.  We picked Costa Rica because some friends have an amazing trip planned for May but the plane tickets had gone up substantially so it seemed like a good time.


I priced out the plane tickets for MIA to San Jose over May 19-May 25 on and once I took out Spirit’s fare of $211 (which would end up being much higher after you pay for your bags, seats, and who knows what else) the cheapest fare was on $426 for 1 stop service on AeroMexico or $434 on the nonstop on American.  Let’s see how we can save by Traveling with Miles!

1. Use 15,000 British Airways Avios to book American Flights

I love using British Airways miles because it often saves a ton of miles vs booking the same seat using AA miles. If I booked directly using American AAdvantage Miles, it would cost 30K miles, double the amount! There is plenty of availability from Miami to San Jose Costa Rica during the that week for 15,000 Avios + $45!BA MIA SJOThere are several ways you could get these miles by credit card signups.  My top choice would be getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred with it’s 40,000 point sign up bonus.  The ultra flexible Ultimate Rewards points it has can be transferred to multiple airlines such as British Airways, Southwest, or United depending on your needs. Another option would be the Chase British Airways card with it’s 50,000 point sign up bonus.

2. Use 30,000 American AAdvantage Miles to book American Flights

This is clearly an inferior option compared to using British Airways miles, but if you happen to have a bunch of American Miles burning a hole in your pocket this is an option to consider.AA MIA SJOYou could get this many AA miles by applying for the 50,000 AA Mile Mastercard or the 50,000 AA Mile Business Platinum Mastercard.

3. Use 35,000 United Miles to fly on Star Alliance flights.

This clearly isn’t as good of an option as using BA miles (or even AA miles) but if you had a lot of United miles and nothing else, you could do it. The flight routing also isn’t as good requiring a connection in both directions. There is plenty of availability though.United MIA SJOTo get these miles, my top choice again would be getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred with it’s 40,000 point sign up bonus.  You could then transfer 35K to United to book the flights.  Another option would be the United Explorer Card with it’s 50,000 mile bonus.

4. Use 35,000 Delta Miles to book on Delta flights.

Delta’s awards are notoriously hard to use, but I was able to find availability over the dates using 35,000 Delta Skymiles and $50.  This was a one connection flight through Atlanta.Delta MIA SJOThere aren’t really any Delta credit offers I would recommend right now, but if you already have Delta miles this option might make sense.  If you have read our article on how to make mega miles with shopping portals, you know that online shopping could be another way to get the miles you need.


1. AirBNB

I started going through the hotel options using miles, but looking on sites like there are private options that are really tempting.  Like this house with an incredible view for only $125 a night.Costa Rica2. Marriott

Marriott also had an interesting choice for 180,000 points for the week at the Autograph collection Hotel Punta Islita.Marriott Costa Rica3. Hyatt

For 175,000 Hyatt Points you can stay at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo for a week which doesn’t look too shabby. Andaz Costa RicaAt a first glance, I would say AirBNB might be a great choice for this destination since the properties that look interesting are high in points cost compared to what you could get by paying cash.  If you got the Barclays Arrival Card, you could use the 40,000 miles to pay for $400 of your AirBNB charges and end up only paying a little bit for a great private house!  Plus you would have room for a bunch of friends to join you.


It looks like using British Airways Avios for your flights and then AirBNB for your lodging would be the smartest way to plan a Costa Rica vacation without spending a bundle.

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!