I originally found Jess through a viral real. I was a lurker for some time, thinking, “why in the world would people pay an annual fee on a credit card when there are free ones?” Finally, I said YOLO and used Jess’s link to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. We met the spend quickly (big family). I referred my husband, and he was able to get the points as well.
My first few redemptions weren’t anything grand, but it was still exciting to know they were mostly free. I flew my dad, three of my girls, and myself to Orlando on Southwest Airlines with the Companion Pass and paid $55 for our round-trip flights. We stayed two nights at a Hyatt Place, transferring Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt so that we could visit Harry Potter World at Universal.
Our first big redemption came almost two years later. Hyatt was raising the cost of Ziva and Zilara, and I knew I wanted to take our family before that happened. We homeschool, so luckily, we are able to travel anytime. I booked two connecting rooms for 210,000 points total + paid cash for our two youngest (around $1,200). We flew Southwest. Because my husband and I both have Companion Passes, we only used points for four people. I can’t remember how many points exactly because I stalked the Southwest app looking for lower prices (I was able to get points refunded multiple times by doing that).
We have a trip coming up at the beginning of February for just my husband and I. We are flying Southwest to the Dominican Republic for 20,000 points with the Companion Pass + taxes. We will be staying at Hyatt Zilara and were able to book before the point increase. For 108,000 pts and $0, we are looking forward to four nights with just us!
Lastly, we are starting a tradition like Alex. We are taking our girls on a special trip alone when they turn 13. My oldest wants to go back to Orlando and do Universal again. I booked direct flights through Southwest using around 15,000 points each for two + me as my husband’s companion. We will stay at a Hyatt near the airport using Ultimate Rewards transferred to Hyatt when we fly in.
Early the next morning, we will move to the Loews Royal Pacific for two nights. That would have been a little over $1,000 if we were paying cash. Instead, I booked through the Chase portal, paid 83,000 points, and used my $50 hotel credit from the Sapphire Preferred. (Not a great redemption in terms of cents per point, but holds great value for us because we weren’t out any money from our pocket.) I am working with a local travel agent to purchase our Universal Studio tickets so that I can erase them with our Capital One Miles, but I haven’t done that step yet.
I have both of the courses, and they hold a ton of valuable information. As far as strategy goes, I am more of a point collector and use them as we decide. I haven’t taken the approach of planning vacations and then earning the points, and that has worked well for us so far!
My typical approach is to check the Travel Mom Squad IG highlight for the best offers that month when my husband or I are ready for our next card. If it’s one we don’t have, I use the TMS link (thanks, Jamie!). If one of us already has the card, we will refer each other!
I love this hobby and am so thankful I found Jess a few years ago. I love that the three moms found each other and the value that each one brings to the table with the different dynamics of each family. I am baffled that more of my circle hasn’t taken advantage of doing this. I can’t seem to get many people on board. (It’s crazy that more people don’t want to do what they see us do—baffles us too!)
Thanks for your Reader Success Story to Hyatt Ziva Cancun, Jamie—it was so fun meeting you and your cute family. Seeing other families succeed in this points and miles hobby is the icing on the cake for us! We look forward to seeing what other trips you end up taking on your points and miles journey!
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