So, my husband and I are finally doing it! As in flying to another city for anniversary getaway. I’ve mentioned earlier that I wasn’t sure what place to pick. I looked at various options, but the biggest issue was lack of time. We can only leave kids for two nights.
Since my husband isn’t a huge fan of travel, I wanted to make it as easy on him as possible. That meant picking flights with no connections and leaving at a reasonable hour. So, no 6 AM departures or midnight arrivals. Drum roll, please…
We are flying to Chicago! Neither one of us has been to that city, and it’s about time we change that. We are going in the early fall, and Southwest hasn’t yet released the schedule for our dates. I didn’t really want to burn 25,000 AA miles per person, and the flights were running at $175 or more. But I have Spirit currency, a co-branded credit card, and early fall happens to qualify for off-peak roundtrip pricing of 5,000 miles per person. Bingo!
I checked and was able to find weekend non-stop flights, so my husband would only have to take one day off work. Tampa airport is very convenient to us, and departure times are decent. We are leaving in the morning and coming back in the evening, so it would give us almost three days to explore the city.
But what about lodging? Well, I have some IHG points I could use, but central hotels are quite expensive. We don’t plan on renting a car, so need a place smack in the middle of Chicago. That way, we could walk to restaurants or take public transportation. I did have 30,000 Wyndham points, and that amount would take care of 2 nights at any property in that chain. And there just happens to be a perfect place in Chicago: Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront
That’s what the total for two nights would have cost us but instead, I used 30,000 points from sign-up bonus on Wyndham credit card (read my post here). I could have transferred Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt program and redeem them for a place that runs at 20,000 Gold Passport points. My husband happens to have Diamond status in that chain, so we would get free breakfast and other benefits. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, not to me. I can transfer 20,000 UR points to Southwest or cash them out for $200. I can’t say the same for Wyndham points.
So, this is how I’ve put together an almost $1,000 vacation getaway for a fraction of the cost. No, the trip is not free because I’ll have to shell out a total of $70 for our checked bag (both ways). Plus, I did have to pay a $69 annual fee on Wyndham credit card. Still, all things considered, how can you argue with value?
But the best part is: we’ll be doing our first flight getaway since having kids. One of my favorite movies of all time is “The Lake House” Anybody else? I must have seen it 10 times. Sure, the plot totally defies logic, but who cares? Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in a movie, it just doesn’t get much better than that. One of my favorite parts is when Alex puts together a walking tour of Chicago: See it here on Youtube I just might try to convince my husband to follow the same route!
Who should consider Spirit credit card?
I’ve mentioned this program to one of my readers who happens to live near Dallas. Take a look at this Spirit coverage map:
As you can see, Dallas is one of Spirit hubs. That means many non-stop flights, and most of them qualify for 2,500-mile one-way pricing. Obviously, there are many restrictions, but with some work and flexibility, you can beat the House. I just did. Let’s take Dallas-Denver route. I’ll admit, I had a hard time finding 2,500 mile pricing, (and that’s where real value is). That said, it does exist:
As you can see, the departure time is reasonable, and some flights leave on the weekend. Believe it or not, I put in 5 passengers, so it’s possible to take an entire family for this ridiculously low price. Of course, you do have to pay for checked bags, and Spirit has a very colorful reputation. Still, if you can get safely where you need to go, this is an excellent option. My sister-in-law flew to Atlantic City and survived. The flights left on-time and Spirit delivered exactly what it promised for only 5,000 miles roundtrip.
To be clear, I don’t think Spirit is the ideal program for most families with kids in school. There are many caveats, not to mention fees galore. Still, it can be an excellent gap-filler and could allow you to conserve valuable Southwest points. Let’s say you have a choice of paying 10,000 Rapid Rewards or 5,000 Spirit miles. Even with bag fees and restrictions, the latter is a much better deal.
Spirit can be a great program for couple getaways. If your in-laws or relatives are able to watch the kids, you can leave any time 5,000 mile pricing is available. If you happen to fall in the category I’ve described, my advice is to consider Spirit credit card at some point in the future. You get 15,000 miles after just $1 purchase, which could potentially take care of 3 roundtrip tickets. Read my posts on Spirit program here and here
You might be able to get an offer that comes with $100 cash back after $500 in purchases. You can see it when making a reservation on Spirit.com and going to the last page before putting in payment details. You can also call 1.800.932.2775 and reference priority code VACE5Z (hat tip to Will at Doctorofcredit for finding it). This card doesn’t pay me referral, so there is no financial incentive to recommend it.
P.S. Readers, please, give me some tips for visiting Chicago! Any decent restaurants you can recommend?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.