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I was featured in a recent Forbes article called “20 Holiday Travel Secrets from Industry Insiders” about tips for cheaper and more comfortable holiday travel. My main suggestion for holiday travel that made the article was:
Use credit card points
Because airlines usually black out holiday travel dates for cashing in frequent flyer miles, “Use credit card points that are good on any flight, any time, on any airline like Arrival Miles [from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®], Capital One miles, and FlexPoints [from the U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card]. In the case of a FlexPerks award, you even get a $25 credit for baggage, food, or lounge access on the day of travel,” says Scott Grimmer, founder of MileValue.com.
What are my other top tips for cheaper and more comfortable holiday travel that didn’t make the article?
Here are my top tips for holiday travel, including the one about credit card points, in detail.
1. Use your credit card points for free travel.
A lot of people would make the mistake of trying to use airline miles for
a holiday trip, but airlines won’t release Saver award space around Christmas on
peak days, so you’ll pay 50,000 airline miles + $5-10 for an award in the continental US with airline miles.
Instead use credit card points that are good on any flight, any time, on
any airline like Arrival miles, Capital One miles, and FlexPoints. These
get you on the exact flight you want without needing to worry about having
the right airline miles. You pay nothing out of pocket, earn airline miles
from flying the award, and get to see your family. In the case of a
FlexPerks award, you even get a $25 credit for baggage, food, or lounge
access on the day of travel.
If you don’t have Arrival miles, Capital One miles, and FlexPoints, open
the correct credit card now. The best cards to open are the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® for 40,000 bonus Arrival miles worth $400 in free flights and no annual fee the first year or the U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card with 20,000 bonus FlexPoints worth up to $425 in free travel and no annual fee the first year.
2. Use Southwest points to save money and avoid bag fees.
Southwest gives two bags free on all flights. Southwest points are worth
about 1.69 cents toward any flight on Southwest without any need to find
award space like on the older airlines. If you’ve ever opened a Southwest
credit card and gotten 50,000 Southwest points, that’s about $850 in free
travel. Don’t forget Ultimate Rewards from several Chase credit cards can
be transferred to Southwest points.
3. Save bag fees.
Southwest allows two checked bags per person for free. JetBlue allows one
free checked bag. All other airlines charge $25 plus per bag per direction.
Spirit even charges for carry ons!
Either fly an airline with free baggage allowance or leverage your airline
status or a credit card for free bags. Having status with an airline always
allows at least one free checked bag. And most airline credit cards allow a
free checked bag for each passenger on a reservation if you book the
flights on that airline with that card.
4. Save internet fees, save money on refreshments, and relax in a lounge.
Take advantage of airline lounges on your trip. You’ll get a less hectic
place to relax, free internet, free snacks and drinks, and access to a
shorter line with far better agents in case of delays and cancellations.
Airline lounges usually cost $50 for access. But if you have any American
Express Platinum card, you get free lounge access to American Airlines, US
Airways, and Delta lounges plus several other non-airline lounges at
airports. Other cards like the Chase Ink Bold have some lounge access
Or if you know anyone who has purchased lounge access with an airline, that
entitles them to bring in free guests. For instance, folks who buy Admirals
Club yearly lounge from American Airlines are entitled to two free guests
on each trip. If you’re bold, stand outside an Admirals Club and ask people
to guest you in.
5. Get on board first.
With everyone taking gifts on board, overhead space is at a premium. Make sure you get on board early and get a spot for your bag. There are lots of ways to get priority boarding:
- Airline status
- Buy your ticket with the airline’s co-branded credit card
- Book an American Airlines flight with Avios
- Check in for your Southwest flight 24 hours in advance
- Get a window seat on a United flight
The full article, which is interesting throughout, begins here.