The Power of 50,000 Miles

I’m a mile and points collector. I haven’t talked about it much, but I’ll be getting into it sooner or later this year.

I love to open up new credit cards for the sign-up bonuses and utilize them for free trips around the world, whether in economy, business, or first class. It’s an experience that I get to enjoy because of my churning and credit card hobby. However, this isn’t always the case and the points could always be used for something better.

The Blockage

A few weeks ago, three friends and I got together at Salt Lake City (SLC), Utah to have a little reunion. We were going to stay at one of our friend’s place and he was going to show us around the city as he had recently moved there permanently for work.

Out of three of us, excluding the one that lived in SLC, two of us were flying in via airplane and the last one was driving 10 hours from Northern California. The two of us flying were going to arrive Friday Morning, whereas the one driving was going to arrive Friday Night.

By the time I arrived that morning, it turns out that there was an accident on the freeway from Northern California to Utah, which would prevent my friend (the one who was driving) to be able to drive and get to Utah on time. This means that he would miss our little reunion in Utah and would have to wait until the next one.

What I think would have happened if he did drive through the snow blockage on the highway.

The Solution

Luckily, since I’m a collector of miles and points, I had recently received 50,000 American Airline miles from applying to Citi’s American Airlines Platinum Credit Card, where I had to spend $3,000 to earn the miles.

We were able to quickly redeem an airplane ticket for my friend for 50,000 miles from Northern California to Salt Lake City, Utah.

To put 50,000 miles into perspective, you can redeem a ticket from Los Angeles, California to Honolulu, Hawaii for 40,000 miles round-trip.

Or even a round-trip ticket to Madrid, Spain for 45,000 miles!

The Happy Ending

While waiting for the last friend to arrive, we decided to head up to Park City, Utah to go skiing.

It was my first time skiing and I have to say that everyone has to try it. It’s definitely a super awesome experience! I could barely do pizzas and turn when I first started, but by the end of the ski session, I was much better than when I started.

I really like this picture I took when we were on the ski lift.

Anyways, my friend was able to arrive safely the next day. The four of us hung out around Salt Lake City, checking out the history of the town, doing a little small hike, and just enjoying each other’s company with some light beers in a cozy house.We were also able to check out the salt lakes with a short hike in the morning and eat some great food!

The Salt Lake smelled very salty.

The Conclusion

Overall, this was a great experience and it was very enjoyable to have all of us there hanging together and catching up.

I guess the main point of this post is that sometimes the miles and points offered through credit card bonuses could be used in very special ways. Some people would use it to experience high-class luxury flights and some would use it to fly their friends and family out to experience the world together. Even though credit cards have a bad reputation most of the time, as long as you are being responsible with your finances, you should be alright. If you don’t really have an idea on what to do with your finances, I have a Simple What to Do with Your Money Guide you could check out.

For the rest of this year, I will be getting into more detail about Travel Hacking, Credit Churning, and even dive into some Travel Reports of where I’ve been in the future here on this blog and hopefully you can tune in.

But the first step to getting started is to make sure you have a good credit score and if you don’t know what affects your credit score, check out my post about The 5 Factors That Affect Your Credit Score.

If you have miles and points, what did you use them for? If not, would you consider applying for credit cards to earn some sign-up bonuses to potentially get some free travel? Why and why not?

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18 thoughts on “The Power of 50,000 Miles

  • February 27, 2017 at 10:49 am
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    I don’t make enough money to afford travel, but I’ve got a great credit score and the discipline/system to use credit cards effectively without getting into debt! Without the travel rewards, I basically wouldn’t ever get to go anywhere.
    I’m using my travel rewards for at least three trips this year: we’re flying to Seattle on Wednesday to visit friends and check out the area, I’ve got a family reunion in North Carolina in June, and I’m heading off to FinCon in October (?).
    Without the travel rewards, I wouldn’t be able to afford any of these places. I love travel hacking! 🙂

    Reply
    • February 27, 2017 at 7:18 pm
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      Nice selection of places!

      I hear great things about Seattle and would like to go someday! I may head to FinCon as well, but I haven’t purchased my tickets yet. If you do go, maybe we can all meet up. 🙂

      Travel hacking is super awesome and enables us to see many new things and places around the world that we originally would not have been able to (without hampering our financial goals).

      Reply
  • February 27, 2017 at 5:22 pm
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    Sounds like you created a really special memory for you and your friends. I have a feeling you’ll remember this trip for a really long time. Especially if you stick with skiing.

    I have to admit that I haven’t gotten into travel hacking yet. With a small child at home that doesn’t travel well we haven’t done very much traveling recently. But it’s definitely something I want to learn more about in the future.

    Reply
    • February 27, 2017 at 7:20 pm
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      Yeah, it was definitely fun and memorable!

      I think travel hacking is easy to get into! If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll try to guide you along the path. I’ll also be writing up some intro guides, so there will be those resources to help all of us learn more about it. 🙂

      Reply
  • February 28, 2017 at 12:09 pm
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    I haven’t gotten into travel hacking, but I have started trying to hack cash back and other perks. It’s interesting as credit card companies are trying to get you to spend more than you can pay back and are willing to offer very nice benefits for those of us who handle our debt responsibly 🙂

    Looks like it was a great trip! I want to go to Utah someday, bet it would be gorgeous.

    Reply
    • February 28, 2017 at 2:50 pm
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      Thanks for the comment, Erik!

      It’s awesome that you are starting to hack the cash back offered to us through our credit cards. It’s also really awesome when you get a huge chunk cashback back (like the 5% rotating categories offered by the Discover IT and Chase Freedom). It’ll definitely help as it mitigates some of the spending.

      Utah was great! It was awesome and very eye-opening. It was like another world when we were on the ski-lift, especially since I come from Los Angeles, which is usually very sunny and not snowy.

      Reply
  • February 28, 2017 at 6:21 pm
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    No credit card travel hacking for me either, although I do leverage some long term credit cards for points and bonuses all the time. They do add up after a while, especially if you can expense large business expenses like my wife does. Sounds like you enjoyed the time with your friends!

    Reply
    • March 1, 2017 at 7:52 pm
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      Yes, I did enjoy the time with my friends. 🙂

      Cashback points are also a good deal, especially if they are points with Chase as you can transfer them to mileage programs or even use them for discounted flights, hotels, etc if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Preferred.

      Reply
  • March 2, 2017 at 11:59 am
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    I recently cashed in miles for about $70 in credit on my account. A lot of the merchandise offered wasn’t items I was interested in and gift cards but when I calculated the value of the gift card compared to the credit in my account, the credit was more…..werid. I use this CC for dining out so I figured I could use the credit for a couple of meals out which is what I did!

    Reply
    • March 2, 2017 at 7:12 pm
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      Using points for crediting a couple of meals is still good too! It helps offset the monthly budget at times. 🙂

      Reply
  • March 2, 2017 at 7:05 pm
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    Such a great friend, SP! We use our credit card for cash-back purposes but haven’t dabbled in the travel hacking much.

    I’m a snowboarder myself. Haven’t been to Park City yet… I pretty much stick with Tahoe, although I haven’t been able to take advantage of the winter storms this year. It’s hard to go on day trips with a new kid in tow. Maybe next year!

    Reply
    • March 2, 2017 at 7:15 pm
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      Cash back is still good!

      If you ever get into travel hacking with poonts and miles, a whole bunch of opportunities open up!

      I only tried skiing, but would love to try snowboarding someday. Tahoe is a beautiful place too, I’ve been there a few times, but that was only to admire the lake and do some hikes. Hopefully you’ll get to go more often and bring the kid along next year!

      Reply
  • March 2, 2017 at 10:31 pm
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    I want to learn more about collecting points and miles, because traveling is my dream! I need to explore travel hacking.

    Your trip sounds wonderful!

    Reply
    • March 2, 2017 at 11:11 pm
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      Thanks for the comment, Heather!

      I’ll have some posts on travel hacking out soon. I usually post once a week, but there will be some out this month, so look forward to it!

      Reply
  • March 7, 2017 at 12:19 am
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    That was a generous use of your points. I started travel hacking last year. So far we’ve acquired one CSP and two CSRs. I’ve used some of those bonus points to book a vacation to Lisbon and Amsterdam for our family this September. We paid a grand total of $250 for 3 round trip tickets and the rest was points. I’ve got the Ink Business Preferred in the mail, and look forward to another 80k UR points. Wheeeeee!

    Reply
    • March 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm
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      Thanks for the comment, Mrs. BITA!

      Lisbon and Amsterdam are awesome places to travel to! I haven’t quite been to Lisbon, but I have been to Amsterdam and I have quite an experience there! Looks like you’re getting the train rolling on the credit cards! 🙂

      Reply
  • March 7, 2017 at 3:49 am
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    Sounds like a lot of fun! I don’t do travel hacking because of my history of identity theft-my credit is frozen and I don’t want to deal with the hassle and cost of unfreezing/refreezing it. Every once in a while I’ll see a credit card rewards deal that looks so tempting though!

    Reply
    • March 7, 2017 at 1:23 pm
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      Yeah, it was! I’m sorry about your past identity theft situation. It makes sense to freeze your credit and be more cautious of it to prevent it from happening again. 🙂

      Reply

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