Guides for using points and miles are often times geared towards singles and couples, but they hardly help out families who want to travel using rewards. In this article, we will discuss how to go on vacation with the whole family using mostly points and miles!
See our list of the best credit card bonuses here.
Points & Miles Strategy
In order to collect enough points and miles to cover a big family trip, you need to start well in advance. Depending on how much you spend monthly and the place you want to go, it may take a year to accumulate enough rewards.
- Determine where and when. Do you want to go to one destination or are you going to be hopping from one city to another? In any case, we recommend traveling during off-peak season to get cheaper award rates.
- Figure out your trip length. This will help to know how many free hotel nights you want to try to get. If you stay longer, it will require more points. There are some hotel chains that give the fourth (IHG) or fifth (Hilton, Marriott) award night free. For example, all Marriott Bonvoy members get their fifth night free when you book an award stay of four nights. Consider the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card to take advantage of that offer.
- Choose your hotel chain so you can plan your hotel credit card strategy. Make sure the hotel you are choosing is available at your destination. You can also use AwardMapper to find hotels in the area with the number of points required to stay each night.
- Find flights. Use Skyscanner or a similar search engine to find out which airlines fly to your destination. Once you have chosen a carrier, you can plan your airline credit card strategy.
- Sign up for your chosen hotel and airline loyalty programs. You and your partner will need separate accounts, because some programs will allow you to pool points with other members.
- Apply for credit cards so you can earn the sign-up bonus. If you and your partner both open the same credit card, you can double on the bonus. Be sure to meet the minimum spend required for the welcome offer.
- Manage your points and miles. Make and update a credit card spreadsheet that keeps track of all the cards, including information of when it was opened and the rewards received.
Learn more about earning free hotel nights. You will discover how co-branded hotel credit cards such as the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card or the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card can help you earn free nights at those hotel properties.
Points & Miles In Action
- Book your flights. If your dates are flexible, you shouldn’t have a problem booking economy award tickets when the schedule opens. It usually opens around 12 months in advance, but check with your carrier.
- Book your hotel stay. Most hotels will let you book a year in advance, but make sure to know the cancellation policy in case your plans change.
Best Credit Cards For Points & Miles Strategy
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a large welcome offer that can help you get started on saving for your family vacation. This card offers flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points and the points can be used for travel at a fixed value. If not, you can transfer them to multiple airline and hotel loyalty programs.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
• 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
• 3X points on dining
• 3X points on select streaming services and online grocery purchases
• 2X points on all other travel purchases
• 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit and when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you'll get 25% more value!
This card carries a $95 annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is much like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, but it has a much higher annual fee. Although, it may be worth it considering the more generous benefits and greater points earning potential.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
• 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually.
• 5X total points on flights
• 3X points on other travel and dining
• 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
When redeeming your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you'll get 50% more value.
This card does carry a $550 annual fee and there are no foreign transaction fees. However, you're able to earn a $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year & up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre?®.
If you like flying Southwest Airlines, this card makes sense. Your family can get two free checked bags and no fees for flight changes. With their Rapid Rewards Program, you can book ant available seat on the plane.
If you fly more frequently, consider checking out the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card offers 60,000 bonus points plus a 30% off promo code after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
You'll also earn 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary each year.
• Earn 2X points on Southwest purchases.
• Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
• Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
You're able to redeem your your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events & more!
This card does carry a $69 annual fee.
The American Express Gold Card offers a welcome bonus that can be redeemed in its Membership Rewards Program. You can use earned points on airline or hotel program or transfer these points to other programs.
The American Express® Gold Card offers 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms apply.
• 4X Membership Rewards Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.,
• 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
• 3X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
$120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
This card has an annual fee of $250 with no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees).
With proper planning and flexibility, your family can enjoy a wonderful vacation with little out-of-pocket costs. All you have to do is plan how you will save your points and find the best deals!
If you would like to see similar deals, check out our points and miles promotions right here on HMB!
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