Last night Jordan and I bought plane tickets to Europe. We got 2 FIRST CLASS tickets for a total of $97.72. Cha-Ching!! I'm still ecstatic about it and I think I will probably be high on life because of it for quite a while. We're going for two weeks at the end of May. We're flying into London and out of Amsterdam. Here's how we did it:
A few years ago my mom and I were talking about our love of traveling. She told me that if I wanted to be able to travel I needed to figure out how to do it. She suggested using a frequent flyer credit card. We signed up for the Delta Skymiles Credit Card. We got it in 2012 and have been saving up our Skymiles for almost 4 years. There are a few ways to really rack up the miles fast. Here are some of the tricks we used:
1. Signing and Referral Bonuses - We got a 30,000 mile bonus when we signed up for the card if we spent a certain amount in the first 3 months. Since we were using it for our everyday purchase (see number 3) this was easy. When a friend mentioned that they were going to be signing up for a Skymiles card in the near future I made sure to give them a referral, so we could get 5,000 bonus
2. Skymiles dining - If we were going to be eating out, we figured that we might as well dine at a restaurant where we could get more miles per dollar.
3. Use your Credit Card like a Debit Card - We made all of our everyday purchases with our Skymiles card and then paid it off at the end of every month (so we didn't get charged interest). Doing this allowed us to get a huge 10,000 mile bonus at the end of the year for meeting a spending requirement.
4. Pay bills with your credit card - To go along with number 3, we tried to pay as many bills as possible with our credit card, as long as the fees weren't ridiculous. We can't pay our mortgage with our credit card, but we can pay our power and gas bills as well as our cell phone bill. We signed up for the credit card while we were still paying tuition and got oodles of miles by paying our tuition with our credit card (and then paying it off right away).
5. Exclusively fly Delta - We try to fly Delta whenever we can. Most of the time, after all of the fees, most airlines end up being right in the same range so if this is the case, we always choose Delta. (If a different airline was WAY cheaper, we'd obviously do that instead) If you buy Delta plane tickets with your Delta Skymiles card you get more miles and then of course the regular miles for travel.
6. Save your miles - Lastly and kind of obviously, save your miles. Don't spend them or use them for ANYTHING until you have saved up enough for your dream trip. We actually had enough saved up two Summers ago, but couldn't use them because of babies and other major life events so we just kept saving them.
Another important thing to mention about the Delta Skymiles Card is that we have found that the Platinum card has been a better fit for us than the Gold card. The Platinum has a higher annual fee but it comes with a free companion pass every year, which the Gold no longer does (When we first got this card the Gold came with a $99 companion pass but then they got rid of it all together so we upgraded).
After doing those various things we had saved 195,000 miles. Delta used to have award charts which helped us to know that to fly to Europe we'd need around 60,000 points each. We were well past our goal. So after all of this saving, we just needed to decide when/where to go.
On Tuesday we received an email from Delta saying that they were having a two-day card member exclusive pre-sale on flights to Europe. There were lots of exclusions and some black-out dates and there were only a few participating cities, so it didn't seem all that great. We gave it a tiny bit of thought but mostly overlooked it at first. By Wednesday, we were thinking that maybe we should give it a better look. The sale was roundtrip tickets to Europe for 42,000 miles. It didn't mention anything about a first class tickets and unfortunately Salt Lake wasn't one of the participating cities. I still liked the idea of saving some of our hard-earned Skymiles so I sat down at the computer yesterday during naptime and started plugging in cities to find out which ones would work best for us. After finding some great deals I saw that there were some first class (Delta One) tickets available for only 87,000 miles, way below what they usually are. I found what I thought was a great deal flying in and out of London for 174,000 miles (for both of us) with around $600 for taxes and fees. I almost booked it right then because I thought it was too good to be true.
When Jordan got home from work he sat down at the computer with me and he found an even better deal. He found an open jaw ticket for the same price but with $500 less fees. I guess when you're flying out of the UK you have to pay a $250 Duty fee, so by flying out of Amsterdam we avoided that fee for both of us. We used all but 21,000 of our miles and we'll be flying to Europe first class and our taxes and fees were only $98 ($48.86 per person)!
(Technically we still need to get to Boston, but we can use our companion pass for one of the tickets, like I mentioned above, so we'll only have to pay for one ticket and I'm pretty sure we can find a ticket for less than $300.)
Just for fun this morning I checked to see how much these tickets would have really cost us if we weren't using miles. HOLY COW. If we would have paid for our flights in dollars, they would have been $10,283.96 PER PERSON. $20,517.92 Total. (Do people really pay this much for flights!?!?)
I can't tell you how excited I am about those first class lounges and to have a flat laying bed on those long flights. I can't wait until May.