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I’ve been posting a lot recently about accumulating points and miles, but that is really only half the battle, or fun, depending on how you view it. While using points as cash is generally looked down upon in the points community, there are some times when it can really be beneficial. Here is an example of one of those times.
Ever since I took Little C to see the beach, I have been wanting to take her somewhere to see snow as well. For those of you who say she’s only a toddler, she’ll never remember, you are wasting your money, etc… you may be right, but I want to do it anyway. 🙂 At the very least, I am pretty sure she will have a blast experiencing something new and exciting while we are there. I will also have a blast as I love watching her learn, playing in snow myself, looking at mountains, and snowboarding. Unfortunately, I have already stretched my points and travel dollars budgets to the max with several upcoming trips, so I wasn’t quite sure how to make this snow adventure a reality. Luckily, I recently spotted a $123 round-trip fare ($143 with taxes)that take us to a snow-filled destination on dates that work for us.
When you are low on cash and find inexpensive air fares like this, it is smart to consider using your points as cash. There are many types of points that can be used in this manner, but the two that I have are American Express Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I had dwindled my Membership Rewards account down to under 5,000 (the minimum threshold to use the “pay with points” feature), but my Chase Ultimate Rewards account still had about 12,800 points in it. I will never be one of those travelers who is sitting on millions of points! The three round-trip tickets came to about $429 total, which is just amazing considering there are three of us! I bought one of the tickets directly from Continental for $143 and the other two using my Ultimate Rewards account so that I could use my remaining Ultimate Rewards points as cash. I bought one directly from Continental because the passenger’s information was already loaded in the Continental account, and I was too rushed for time to enter it again unnecessarily on the Ultimate Rewards account.
Anyway, since Ultimate Rewards points are worth 25% more when you use them to “pay” for travel, my 12,800 points became $160 worth of travel. Had I used them to pay for non-travel related expenses, they would have only been worth $128. So, the two tickets I booked on Ultimate Rewards came to a total of $285 – but with the $160 in points, I only had to pay $125 out of pocket for two round-trip tickets to take our little family to the mountains to play in snow! When you add in the third ticket that I purchased directly from the airline, our tickets came to a total of $268 out of pocket and 12,800 points. What is great about tickets purchased with points in this manner is that they are eligible to earn miles. Say I had only purchased one $143 ticket with Ultimate Rewards points – it would have cost me about 11,500 points. Once I actually fly the flight, I would earn about 2,000 miles. So, essentially the ticket would cost a total of 9,500 points/miles when all is said and done. That is way less than the 25,000 miles it usually costs to obtain a domestic round-trip ticket. In this case, it really was “points as cash for the win”! Stay tuned for how we were able to score a couple nights on the mountain using points as well. Do you ever use your points as cash?
Remember, if you haven’t already, enter to win a free night at the fabulous Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa here – contest ends 9/30/11 at 11:59PM CST!