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Why I Love Points & Miles – It’s Not the Luxury Travel Part

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I love points & miles trips

I Love Points & Miles, but My Favorite Part Isn’t The Luxury Travel

It’s no secret that I love the points & miles game. However, my favorite part of it isn’t the luxury travel stuff. I’ve stayed in some incredible locations and at some incredible hotels. I’ve taken some great flights. However, my favorite part is that I’ve been able to do things for other people I couldn’t have done without points & miles.

Points & Miles As A Way To Help Others

Case 1 – My brother-in-law

Living in Brazil, it’s natural that my brother-in-law is die-hard passionate about our local soccer (football) team. I had some Delta points saved up and some orphaned IHG points to burn, since I don’t have their card. Our team qualified for the Copa Libertadores (competition among teams from all of South America) this year, and there was an away game in Asuncion, Paraguay. Neither of us had ever been. For 25,000 Delta miles each and 20,000 IHG points, we flew round-trip in economy on GOL and stayed at the Crowne Plaza Asuncion for our 2-day trip. $177.60 in taxes, carry-on bags only for 2 days, and then the only thing we paid for were the game tickets and meals. Breakfast was included at the hotel. A great trip with great memories (even though our team lost).

Delta GOL redemption to Paraguay
25,000 Delta Miles each, round-trip in economy on GOL

Case 2 – My Mother-in-Law

She doesn’t know it yet, but her Christmas + birthday present is us taking her to Disney World in Orlando in January (Disney hacks here).  It costs 30,000 AA miles per person to fly economy round-trip to Miami and back to Brazil. Add on $67.13 in taxes each. We’ll stay with my parents for a few days to visit them and then take my mother-in-law up to Disney World for the first time ever. We booked the DoubleTree Suites at Disney Springs for 2 nights. It cost 50,000 Hilton points per night.

Points & Miles trip to Disney
30,000 AA miles each + 50,000 Hilton points per night

Case 3 – The Whole Family Gets Involved

Last October, my wife & I took my mother-in-law to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was 25,000 United miles per person round-trip. Taxes were $105.30 each for the round-trip, most of that coming from the Argentina air departure tax.

United redemption to Buenos Aires
12,500 United points per person to Buenos Airways, then 12,500 for a separate booking for the return

We met up with my parents while there, who got into the points and miles game after seeing my travels. They used 110,000 AA miles each to fly business class round-trip from Florida to South America and back. Since there were 5 of us, we rented an apartment on AirBnb and split it. We used Airbnb gift cards I’d bought 10% off from a previous deal.

Case 4 – My Friend’s Wedding

Last month, one of my closest friends got married in Oceanside, CA. Both of his parents have died. His relatives live on the East Coast and said they couldn’t afford to get out there for the wedding. Using points and miles allowed me to get to a wedding I probably couldn’t have afforded to go to if paying cash. I used 60,000 Delta miles to fly round-trip in economy and paid $76.13 in taxes. It was a looooong trip with stops in Rio and Atlanta en route to LAX before then driving 2 hours in a rental car. I stayed at the Marriott Courtyard in Oceanside. The points value wasn’t very good, so I used my $300/year Marriott credit from my Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card to cover the $139/night cost for free.

Delta award booking
60,000 Delta miles + $76.13 in taxes round-trip

Final thoughts on why I love points & miles

It’s fun to talk about booking once-in-a-lifetime experiences and crazy points valuations. It’s awesome to take trips you’d never afford if not for this hobby. However, the greatest memories come from being able to do things for friends and family. My wife & I love points and miles for all of the things this hobby has added to our lives. We also love points & miles for for the memories it’s allowed us to give to others. I need to remind myself of that sometimes and not get caught up in the other stuff.

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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