Free Consulting Service

Hello and thanks for stopping by! I’ve created this page to provide one-on-one help for my readers. Everyone is unique, so this advice will be tailored to your particular situation. I will recommend the best cards for your family, whether they pay me commission or not. That’s my promise to you.

Be aware, I am not a financial advisor or planner of any sort. I do, however, have an extensive background in personal taxes. Please, email me at and provide the following information:

1. Tell me about  your goals

Are you looking to maximize your rewards through everyday spending? Are you planning to apply for cards with the sole goal of collecting sign-up bonuses? A little bit of both?

2. Tell me about your  spending patterns

How much do you put on credit cards each year? What are  three areas where you spend the most?

3. Tell me how many people you have in the family

Do you only plan to travel as a family? The more award tickets are required, the tougher it gets to find availability. Some programs give you fixed value per point and may be a better fit for your situation.

4. Tell me when and where you plan to travel

Peak seasons ( summer) and holidays can present a challenge since everyone wants to travel around that time. Once again, I’ll let you know about the best programs to fit your needs. Also, if you have to visit relatives in a particular city, I could give you advice on what airline programs you should focus on.

Before contacting me, you might want to read my post on best long-term cards for family It  has links to further reviews and might answer your questions without needing any further help. You may also want to read my Beginner’s Guide, and check out my page of best sign-up bonuses.

Still have questions? This consultation doesn’t cost anything, and you are not obligated to apply through my credit card links. I look forward to helping you optimize your spending and  travel close to free.

99 thoughts on “Free Consulting Service

  1. hi – (i don’t think i know your name!)

    do you know how to book with avios on partner airlines? i’ve been at this for 2 hours and cannot figure it out! it’s makin’ me crazy……..
    we want to fly from new york, preferably not newark, to quebec city – yqb.
    dates are oct. 25-29. yes, in a few weeks – not 2015.
    if you could just tell me how to do it, i’d be forever grateful!
    thanks and love your blog,

    • Jerri, thanks so much for reading my blog! The problem with JFK-YQB flights is that they have connection, and BA system doesn’t display connecting partner flights 60% of the time. So you would have to call. Your best bet would be to search and see if anything comes up on American or US Airways metal, an then call BA and feed the schedule to the agent. However, I checked the dates and the only award flights available around your timeline are October 29th-31st
      Have you considered flying to Montreal and just renting a car? The availability is great, and you would save your Avios. The flight costs only 4,500 miles each way for JFK-Montreal. You should be able to book online. Go to, log in, then click “Executive club” on top, “Spending Avios”. On the left you should see, “Book flights with Avios”. Then feed the dates.
      If the website doesn’t work, call Tel: 1 800 452 1201 (from the USA)
      Just select the option of booking regular flights, because the US center is closed. You will be routed to their main center in London, and the agent should waive the booking fee, since you couldn’t book awards online. I strongly recommend you go with Montreal option and just drive. Let me know if this helps.

  2. you are awesome! believe it or not, we have reservations from lga to montreal, but now we’ve decided we’d rather go to quebec city. so what you have suggested is probably what we’ll do.
    thanks so much for your help!

    • Jerri, no problem at all! Feel free to contact me anytime. If I’m able to help, I will. I hope you’ll book everything successfully and have a good vacation. Good luck!
      BTW, my name is Leana.

  3. hi leanna –

    i need to fly my son from belgrade to san jose costa rica in january. he could fly from rome or basically anywhere over there. is it useful for me to buy the avianca life miles at the discounted price, which is happening right now? when he flies overseas, i put him in biz or first. i hate for him to be cramped for long periods of time. spoiled???? (and he always flies on award miles – i never actually pay for the tickets).

    let me know what you think.
    thanks again for all you do!

    • Jerri, it could definitely make sense to buy Avianca miles for this purpose. Many in the hobby, excuse me, The Hobby, do just that. Couple of things to be aware of: Avianca could devalue awards without notice or add fuel surcharges. It’s unlikely that it will happen within few days of your purchase, but you just never know with these things. I definitely would redeem miles immediately if I were you. From what I understood, you can’t mix awards, so all flights have to be in business class.

      Since your son is planning to fly in January, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding award seats. That’s low season. So, yes, this plan should work. Of course, if you already have miles in another program, it probably makes sense to burn those. If not, go for Avianca deal. Approved!
      P.S. Flying in coach from Europe to America stinks big time. If you can afford business class via miles, why not?

  4. therein lies the problem – i have tons of miles, but i hoard them. i’d rather buy new ones and use them than use the ones i’ve got. i know – wacko. i’m going to find out the date he needs to be in costa rica and i’ll get back to you.
    you’re a doll.

    • Jerri, no problem, and please, let me know how it goes! Also, I encourage (beg!) you to consider burning the miles you already have. Of course, it depends on your budget and your upcoming plans. If you have enough miles for 3-years worth of vacations, maybe it’s time to let go. Just saying… 🙂

  5. i know you’re right. i just looked at an aa flight for 1st and it’s only 62,700. plus $400. pretty cheap, considering. i think i’ll do that and forget the avianca. do you think that’s good?

    • Hmm, the tax seems a bit high. I’m guessing it involves BA? Might want to look at alternate airports just in case. Otherwise, if you have a ton of miles, it could make sense to go that route. You are not taking a chance (Avianca deal is risky, though risk is admittedly minimal). But peace of mind is worth something. You are not buying potentially worthless miles. Honestly, I encourage you to compare the costs and figure out what AA miles are worth to you at this point in time. If you have a ton and no major upcoming plans to use them, perhaps this is a good opportunity to “sell.”

    • Jerry, just wanted to give you quick heads up on Avianca awards sale. Look at One Mile at a Time blog for dedicated post on this. It appears that you can potentially snag a good deal by combining it with the bonus on miles purchase. I still think you should at least consider burning your existing miles, but wanted to let you know in case you are still debating on which way to go.

  6. thanks so much! i’m actually going to use the miles i’ve got. i finally talked myself into just biting the bullet and using them.
    i appreciate you thinking of me!


  7. hi leanna – totally off the subject, but have you heard of, know of, or know anyone who has done this trip?

    also, thanks so much for letting me know that the ba tax was too high. i thought it sounded cheap! did a bit more research and stuck to aa with no ba involved and the same trip costs me $124 vs $400. biz class. between my husband and myself, we have over 1 million aa miles. so it was time to start using them! glad i did. i really didn’t need to buy avianca miles…..gotta get over this hoarding.

    thanks again for everything you do.

    • Jerri, no problem, I’m so glad my advice was useful! Hey, paying $124 instead of $400 is nothing to sneeze at. Glad it worked out. And I agree, if you have 1 million miles, it’s time to burn them at last.
      On this train trip, no, I don’t know anyone who has done it. I think I’ve heard of this train, it passes through Grodno, my hometown. The rate is expensive, but the ride looks pretty cool. My husband actually wants to do trans-Siberian route one day. It takes three weeks and goes all the way to China!

      • yea, that’s why i asked. i knew that was your part of the world! my son is going from nice to vienna and thinking of taking that train. he’ll probably do it, since it’s a lot more interesting than flying…

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  18. I’m trying to find the most economical way to fly 7 people from SDF on 7/7/17 to GCM returning on 7/14/17. The cheapest that I’ve found so far is 50,000 RT on Delta. Any other suggestions?

    • Hi, Lucydney! With so many people, finding award availability will be tough. If you have any flexibility, it will definitely help. I checked, and they have availability for 6 award seats (possibly 7, but it will only let you search for 6) on July 8th from your home airport. The cost is 15,000 miles one-way. So, you can utilize AAdvantage for flights to Grand Cayman and use another program to come back. If you don’t have AA miles, you can use British Airways Avios, and it will also cost you 15,000 miles per person. In fact, using Avios is usually advantageous because you can cancel and only lose what you’ve paid in taxes.
      As far as coming back, Delta may very well be your best option. You might also check Air France (Delta partner) because sometimes it will price out cheaper (possibly 15,000 miles one-way). You can get Air France Flying Blue account for free and check the prices. Unfortunately, it only releases schedule 10 months in advance. If you have to book right now, Delta might be your best bet, unfortunately. I checked paid airfare and it costs more than $600 roundtrip. Personally, I would burn the miles, but it depends on what you value them at. Also, Citi Prestige will give you 1.6 cents toward AA flights, so it’s another option to consider (in case you have the card and sizable stash of Thank You points). Hope this helps!

  19. Me again. This time trying to book award flights from PHL to YVZ (Calgary) on United but using AMEX MR points. I don’t have enough UR. Dates are Monday, April 2, 2018 return on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, April 6, 7, 8..whatever has availability. I looked at United and they are only showing flights up to Feb 2018. Aeroplan is not showing any United availability, only Air Canada which has HUGE taxes and fees. I want to book on United to avoid this. Please help!

    • @Natasha Unfortunately, till the schedule opens up (11,5 months ahead via United program), there isn’t a whole lot you can do. Those United flights are not yet loaded in the system, so they are impossible to book. So, you will just have to wait for now. Sorry!

  20. Leana, thanks. No, that’s good I am ahead of the game. Will the United availability show on aeroplan when I’m ready to book? So I should be prepared to book in Mid March, correct? I’m concerned because I did a search on and found award space for THIS April, but when I did the same search on aeroplan’s website, I did not see the same availability. Any tips?

  21. I also plan to use my free nights and suite upgrades Fairmont certificates for Lake Louise and the 3rd night free certificate for Banff. Much better redemption than the D.C location which we booked for cash this month for $175.00 all in.

    • @Natasha If your flights will take place in April of 2018, you probably won’t be able to book them till early May of 2017. But keep checking Aeroplan website anyway. I can understand your concern over low-level United flights not showing up on Aeroplan. My contributor Nancy had the same issue.

      The only suggestion I have is to call Air Canada. As long as United flight is “saver” level, it should be bookable. But partner websites can be quirky sometimes. United flights can also be booked via Singapore program, but transfer from MR is not instant (1-2 days). Still, it’s a possible alternative.
      I’ve actually toured Lake Louise property and it’s GORGEOUS. I don’t know how the weather is in April, but the area is stunning. Very good choice for Fairmont certs!

    • @Natasha June is definitely better. However, don’t Fairmont certs have an expiration date of 12 months after they are issued? Since you recently applied for the card, next June probably won’t work.

  22. I have until May to earn the certificates. I plan to meet spend by then and I am assuming that they won’t post until my statement closes in mid-May. So the certificates likely won’t post until June…does that amke sense?

  23. Here is the sm from Chase..
    Hello Natasha,

    Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding your Fairmont
    Visa with Chase.

    Natasha, let me confirm your account enrollment offer is
    as follows;
    – Earn 2 Complimentary Nights after you make $3,000 in
    purchases within your first 3 months of account opening.
    – Earn 1 Complimentary Night each anniversary year that
    you make $12,000 in purchases with your card.

    Purchases do not include balance transfers, cash advances,
    cash-like charges such as travelers checks, foreign
    currency, and money orders, any checks that access your
    account,overdraft advances, interest, unauthorized or
    fraudulent charges, or fees of any kind, including an
    annual fee, if applicable.

    Let me confirm, this offer is available to use until

    If you have any questions or if we can help in any other
    way, please call us at the toll-free number listed above.
    We are here 24 hours a day to serve your credit card

    • @Natasha Normally, I would recommend to meet the spending a month prior the deadline. In this case, however, you may want to complete the spend at the beginning of May. What you may want to do now: change the closing statement date to the end of the month, the 31st. That way, if you make your final charge at the beginning of May, it will reflect on your May 31st statement. That means the certs will probably be deposited few days later. It will be cutting it close, but should work. I would schedule the trip at the end of May of 2018 if at all possible. You want to have few days as a buffer. Good luck and let me know how it goes!
      P.S. Is it OK if I do a post on this topic at some point?

      • Leana, thank you! Do I sm them to change my statement closing date? And yes, you may absolutely do a post on this.

        We are thinking of going in May instead of June. So when do I meet minimum spend?

    • @Natasha Based on SM, it looks like you have to meet the spending by May 8th. That being said, I recommend you call and double check on it. You can reserve the hotel night certificates right away, even before you have flights taken care of. There is no risk because you should be able to cancel and redeposit them if needed. But double check on this as well.
      You should be able to change statement closing date via SM. Give it a shot and if not possible, call Chase.

    • @Natasha Honestly, if you can swap your plans and go this summer, it would be ideal. That area is best to visit in July. That’s when we went. You will be less stressed about certificates.
      You can reserve the rooms now even before you have certs in your account. At least one of my readers has done it, though I can’t vouch that this option is still available. But you can call and try to reserve the room and tell the rep you’ll redeem the certs when you get them deposited in your account. Good luck deciding!

  24. Thanks, I agree. I see availability on united but I only have enough UR for 2 award tickets. Thinking about paying cash for only one since I have a $300 travel credit (which will cover one ticket) from the AMEX platinum in my United gift registry. That leaves me paying for only 1 ticket. My MR points may be frozen since I applied via the leaked Thanksgiving link.

    • @ Natasha It’s a tough choice. If it were me, I would try to go this July if at all possible. Well, provided canceling other plans doesn’t involve penalties. You can try to call Amex and ask them to unfreeze a portion of the bonus? I don’t know if it will work, but it might.
      Lake Louise Fairmont is a stunning property, the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever seen. End of May might be quite cold, remember, it’s in the mountains. It’s up to you.

  25. @Natasha That’s too bad. Well, you can always go with the original plan and try to reserve the room for next year. If you do it when they first open up, you should be OK. The weather in May might be just fine. You may also want to call occasionally and see if availability for this summer opens up. I think anything at the end of June should give you a decent chance at good weather.

  26. Leans, it looks like I have enough MR to book the flights directly with Amex. Since I don’t have to pay for flights I can pay for 2 nights at lake Louise and use my carts in Calgary. Seriously considering this option. It cost 163,000 MR to book directly. No out of pocket for fees and taxes.

    • @Natasha Hmm, that seems like a lot of points. I guess you’ll have to decide if it’s all worth it. Only you can answer that. I know it’s tough to decide what to do sometimes. If you wait, room availability may open up. Also, have you checked June and August? Surely, rooms have to be available on few summer dates. I hope you make it to Lake Louise even if you don’t end up staying at Fairmont.
      On a separate note, there are amazing Fairmont properties in Maui and Big Island. A bit different from Canada, I know. 🙂

  27. We can only go during that week since hubby is off from work and kids have no camp that week. I did find availability at the fairmont Calgary. Two free nights can be used there. I may splurge on one night in lake Louise. i have enough MR to book 2 flights..

  28. Leana, First off, thank you for being so patient with me. Having said that, I am an OCD planner like you so I was completely freaking out about making this trip work. However, the limited availability for all the Fairmonts in Banff and Lake Louise as well as Toronto and Quebec makes this June/July trip a non starter. I just couldn’t pull it off without substantial amounts of money being used.

    We are sticking to my original plan of going next year for spring break which is March 30-April 4, 2018. I was able to find availability at lake louise!! I am able to use my free night certificates as long as I meet spend by April 15,2017 as my certificates will be good for one year (post in May statement). I plan on using my third night free cert, as well, as I will pay the $95 annual fee to remain a Fairmont member until after my trip.

    By mid March of this year when flights come out, I should be able to use my MR to book flights at the lowest award level. I still don’t know if they are frozen but by March, AMEX should be done whatever review they have been doing for a card opened in November. In the meantime, I am able to research the area etc.. It just made more sense. I will pay $250 Canadian per night for a 5 night stay using my 2 free certs and 3rd night free cert. Heck, I may even use my suite upgrade cert, if available. I think that’s a fair amount to pay for such an amazing hotel. I will keep checking to see if the price goes down or their is a SAAVER rate at the Fairmont lake Louise.

    I am aware that it is COLD in April in Lake Louise/Banff, but we are going to Montreal THIS April for Spring break so we should be ok. Besides. MUCH LESS crowds which is better for us. We prefer to travel “off peak” anyway. Thank you for all of your help!

    If you have any tips for lake louise, I’d appreciate it.

    • @Natasha No worries at all! I’m the biggest OCD person there is, so I totally get it. I think your plan sounds fine. As nice as Lake Louise property is, it looks like it would end up costing you a fortune to go this year.
      End of March will probably have its own charm and less crowds. So, don’t stress and enjoy yourself. Just make sure not to wait till the last day to meet the spending. It has to be close, but not too close. The flights should open up at the end of April of this year, and I doubt there will be a lot of competition for seats. I don’t have any tips for Lake Louise because we only spent about three hours hiking and having lunch at Fairmont hotel, but it was amazing. One of the most pristine places I’ve witnessed in person.
      Keep me updated!

  29. Leana, I plan to meet minimum spend by April 10th. My statement closes on the 31st of the month now so I should be good :). Thank you for all of your help and i’ll keep you posted. i’m excited that we’ll be in Montreal in two months!!! First time going and kids are learning French. We’re taking Amtrak from Philly to Montreal!

  30. I just signed up for ANA frequent flier program as they transfer 1 to 1 with AMEX MR. Gonna familiarize myself with the site so I can book our flights next month.

  31. Thank you. I am finally able to see United Airlines availability on aeroplan’s website. I did a mock booking and found that I would need 100,000 miles, plus $427.00 to get us from Philly to Calgary. That’s a much better option in my book than through the AMEX travel portal. Award flights only go up to Feb 2018 so I have about a month and a half to go…I will be checking every day…

  32. Hi Leana – love this blog. This is kind of a general question but wondering how you approach situations like this. I’m about to book a flight for my family of 6 on Alaska Air. We haven’t flown Alaska much but recently moved to the Seattle area and I anticipate we may fly them often. I’m debating whether to create AS Mileage accounts for all the kids and getting 100% of miles flown as credit in their account or getting BA Avios credited at 25% of miles flown, but that get deposited into a family account you can pool (thanks BA for that!). I’m just nervous I’ll wind up with a bunch of orphaned kids’ accounts that never quite get to a good redemption point – if nothing else it’s just one more thing to track.


    • @Lewieg First, thank you so much for your kind words about the blog! I pour so much time and energy into it, sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it. So I appreciate comments like yours.
      As to your question, without a doubt I would credit to Alaska. Like you said, you’ll get 100% flown miles. You probably know this, but Alaska has changed its program, and now some routes will start at 5,000 miles one-way. See this post
      So it may not take you that long to reach that amount in each account. Recent takeover of Virgin America will also present you with more options. Being based in Seattle makes a strong argument in favor of collecting Alaska Mileage Plan miles. Plus, who knows, the partnership between Alaska and BA may be gone within few years. Hope this helps.

      • Good call! I didn’t realize there were such cheap redemptions available. We’ll be there quickly as we’re doing a cross-country flight and will bank ~4800 miles each just from the RT trip. We just got the credit cards as well for the extra 60k miles + comp fares and checked bag benefits.

        I was also eyeing the sometimes crazy award tickets you can book via AS, too. For example, I’ve seen that you can do things like HNL -> ZRH on AA metal for only 20k points and stopovers are allowed. And I can get to HNL using 12.5k BA Avios. In theory, I could get to Hawaii using BA, then back using AA with a really long stopover back home, then take a fall trip to Europe. Takes some planning but there are some really crazy things you can do w/ long distance trips on AS miles.

  33. Leana,
    I just picked up the Barclays Arrival card. I plan to use points to erase $525 on my Disney cruise. Any tips or links you can send to me?

  34. Great, thanks. Yes, i want to use all 50,000 points on our disney cruise. I understand you get a 5 percent rebate making it actually $525. I’ll read the link you gave me.

    • Note that you’ll only be able to take off $500 with the initial points. You then get the 5% back as a rebate, which you can then use on a separate transaction. But then you have to get $100 (I thought it was $50, but I dropped Barclays) worth of points again to redeem. It used to be 10% refunded with a $25 min value. Those days, Arrival+ was my go-to card for daily use but I’ve since dropped it because of the changes to their program.

      • You are absolutely correct! My linked post mentions those points, and it’s definitely something to pay attention to. You have to play around with redemption levels to make sure you can get close to zero when it comes to remaining points.

  35. Leanna, I was able to book our flights to the rockies. It cost 50,000 aeroplan miles plus taxes of $216.00 on air canada for 2 adults, 2 children. Although I could’ve waited until United released their fares and paid lower taxes and no surcharges, this is a DIRECT flight, so I thought the surcharge was worth it.

    My hubby is deathly afraid of flying so a direct flight is a must. Plus with all the finagling that I had to do to extend my Fairmont certs, I didn’t want to chance it. We are set for chateu lake Louise. Wohoo.

    Now I have to book my return flight which has much more wiggle room. I’ll keep you posted.

    • @Natasha That sounds wonderful! Direct flight is always the way to go if at all possible. My husband is a lot like yours’, so I totally get it. Listen, you’ve snagged those seats for only 50,000 miles. That’s a huge win in my book. Plus, I’m pretty sure United would charge you the same amount in taxes, maybe slightly lower. So I don’t think you’ve lost anything. Well done! I’m jealous.

      • Thanks, this was my first reward redemption and I was quite nervous, but I did it.
        Thanks for all of your help as I recall you telling me that I should NOT pay 160,000 MR for a flight with multiple stops. You told me to keep looking! I am forever grateful.

    • @Natasha YOU did it, not me. High five, girl! I’m happy for you guys and hope you’ll have a wonderful trip. This is the kind of story that makes my day. It’s what makes blogging worth it.

  36. plans are now derailed since chase is nixing the fairmont card. we are still going but not paying $400 a night for the upgraded lakeview room. we will be in a base room but we still get to go.

    • @Natasha That’s a bummer! But you know, you can still enjoy the view by simply walking a few feet. No big deal. Plus, since you are staying during off-season, maybe they will upgrade you anyway. Doesn’t hurt to ask.

      • Yes, I am a little bummed but just thankful that I get to go and stay there for free. I will be cancelling my fairmont card in August. I don’t want to product change to a csp as I won’t be eligible for the bonus.

      • Base room booked. thank God. It’s easter weekend so I was a little worried. we are staying friday and saturday night.

      • Leana,
        I received a call back from a supervisor at fairmont and she extended my upgrade certificate until April 1, 2018. We are BACK IN A LAKEVIEW ROOM FOR FREE!!!!!!!!

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  38. Hi,
    Can you suggest any hotels on Marco Island or Sanibel Island? We have points with SPG and IHG. I know there is a HI on Marco Island but it is not beachfront. I don’t know how much of an issue that will be with kids. As far as SPG, I see a Marriott but I’d have to transfer points. It looks rather expensive at 40k points per night. Any other suggestions? I wouldn’t be oppose to getting a new credit card if you have other ideas.


    • Forgot to add: the goal is four days someplace where my daughter can go shelling. We will be using our timeshare in Orlando for the first five days. Thinking of flying into Orlando and flying out of Ft. Myers.

      • @Michelle Sanibel is considered one of the best places for shelling. Not sure about Marco island.

    • @Michelle IHG used to have a property on Sanibel, but it was rebranded. I love Sanibel, so if paying cash is not a deal breaker, check out and There is a resort called South Seas on Sanibel that looks very nice. I haven’t stayed there, but it sure looks fun. If you are going during off-season, it could be worth investigating. Of course, you would have to sign up for cards that give travel rebates, so check my Hot Deals page for that.
      I’ve seen that Marriott property online and it looks great. If you are going during high season, paying 40K Marriott points might be worth it. That’s actually not a bad deal, considering the fact that rates go for $400 per night. Plus, you’ll get fifth night free. You can try applying for business version of Marriott card (not subject to 5/24, for now).
      I do recommend beachfront if you can swing it. We live in Florida, but I pay extra for beachfront. It’s just more convenient that way.

      • Leana – this is how it turned out. This trip is my daughter’s choice as my son is heading to the UK on exchange in August and my other son is away at college. We will be flying into MCO and staying in our timeshare for the first 6 nights. Thank you SW for the free airfare. Our son in college will be joining us for 4 days and returning home. How lucky is he that SW flies into the city his college is located? Thanks SW for another free ticket! Finally, we are heading to Ft. Myers. I gave my daughter the choice of staying at either Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa or The Residence Inn by Marriott. She decided that she preferred having a separate sleeping area from us, full kitchen, and free breakfast. See it doesn’t take much to make a 12 year old happy. We are 4.2 miles from her shelling destination of Sanibel Island. I was concerned about not being waterfront and her reply was “we’re not babies mom, we can handle a 10 minute car ride”. I suppose I forget that my kids are 12, 16, and 19 now. Thanks to SPG – I transferred my points to Marriott and the stay was completely free. We are flying home from Ft. Myers and had enough points for 1 more free flight. I put the remaining three on my Barclay Card so it will be free also. Hurray! I will more than likely use my Citi Double Cash to pay for Disney tickets. So, all that is left is rental car and food. Hurray – I love almost free vacations!

      • @Michelle This sounds like a terrific plan! I honestly think you guys will love Sanibel island. It’s my favorite destination in Florida, so that says something right there.
        Forgot to mention. I’m not sure if you can add one night at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, but it’s a terrific property. They have a free boat shuttle to an island, and it’s so nice! They have a lot of shells there as well. I highly recommend it if you have UR or Hyatt points. The cost is 15,000 points per night, which is a good deal. You’ll be very close, so maybe consider treating yourself on your last night. But either way, enjoy!

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  43. Leana, Bets way to get my family of 4 to Italy. We can fly out of EWR or PHL, even JFK. Want to fly into Rome, however will consider Milan or even Venice. I have 50,000 UR (80,000 pending) so possibly 130,000 and 35,000 MR. I am also not opposed to paying cash for the flights. We are using airbnb for the lodging. Thoughts? Should I focus on MR or UR?

    • @Nat I think based on your departure airport it’s probbaly best to focus on UR points. Cash fares to Europe have come down lately, plus you will be traveling during low season. Not to mention, you live near several major hubs. So, if you have CSR, you can potentially redeem UR points at 1.5 cents toward flights. It will probably be hard to beat that via miles. However, the beauty of flexible points is that you won’t be locked into one option. So, I would say, focus on UR points and see what’s your best option at the time. Many MR and UR airline partners overlap, so you can mix and match.

  44. Leana, could use your and the forums advice.
    I really like to travel with my family and just redeemed 190K worth of UR through my wife’s Chase Sapphire Reserve to go to Universal (Harry Potter World). I am now past 5/24 for both of us and wont be under until 3/20..

    History (2019 that is)
    Approved: Chase Biz Cash, CFU, CSP, Amex Green Biz (Popup on all others), Cap1 Spark, US Bank Altitude, Barclays A+, Barclays AA Biz, Citi AA Biz, Citi AA, WF Plat Biz

    Denied: CIP 2x, BoA Personal, Barclays AA, Amex Green

    Approved: CSR, Amex Delta Gold Biz, Amex Everyday, Barclays A+, Citi AA Biz

    Denied: BoA Biz, Barclays AA


    Surprising to me, is that all this emphasis on bonuses and making sure I meet MSR and I have reduced overall debt. So want to continue that of course. Also travel, basically got a $5K trip for $500 thanks to points (Chase). Want to do this again for next year.

    Since Chase is not an option for the next 10 months, wanted to focus on Biz cards for P2 and anything for me as I am 8/24. The issue is I have opened a lot of cards this year and been getting denials due to this.

    Thoughts and Ask for Advice
    I am now able to apply for another Citi Card as I have passed 2/65. Was thinking about the Prestige or Premiere. Also hoping that I can apply for Amex again, without the popup, but not sure what to apply for. Lastly P2 doesn’t like to talk to these banks when they ask for “Biz” info, so have limited these. Cap1 has a few good cards, but with the 3 HP risking a denial is risky for me.

    Any suggestions? What would you do?

    • @msturg29 That’s a pretty nice haul for this year! On Prestige vs. Premier: it depends on your goals. I would pick Prestige if I had plans to use “4th night free” perk and needed Priority Pass benefits for my whole family. If you plan to use points on hotel stays and already have Priority Pass (through CSR), then the benefits of having Prestige over Premier are marginal. You can transfer points to miles at the same rate, and you will also get 1.25 cents towards airfare. Do keep in mind that the bonus on Premier was 60k points just a few months. I have no idea whether it will return, but it’s something to think about. For what it’s worth, I would pick Premier.
      On to Capital One. With all the cards you’ve recently applied for, your chances of approval for any of their products are slim. You can try, of course, just be prepared to get three hits on your credit with nothing to show for it. But again, you won’t know until you try. I’ve given up on Capital One, personally.
      As far as Amex cards go, my advice is to apply for whatever card doesn’t give you pop-up! 🙂 I like MR-earning Amex cards the most, so those would be my priority. After that, either Marriott or Delta.

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