I book a lot of my family get-togethers using miles, especially when prices are high if I were to actually buy a ticket instead.
Back in April, Mr. Points Traveler and I enjoyed a nice post-baby 3-night trip to Aruba. I actually booked the trip ahead of time, before even giving birth, because I knew by then we’d need some quality time alone.
Before that trip, the last time I was on a plane was in early December 2013. 5 months was a long time for me.
Since NYC-Aruba is generally “expensive” during peak season (aka whenever our never-ending winter greets us), I feel no guilt using miles for the trip, even my most precious United miles.
Why? Not only do a I get a round trip award, but I can even add on a free-oneway award to take on a later date, using the same amount of miles.
As a rule of thumb, whenever I am redeeming United miles for a round-trip international award, I always make sure I tack on an extra segment on the end. I can always change the date (as long as saver award space is available), and worst case scenario, there’s no real loss if I absolutely can not take the free one way in the end.
Since Baby Points Traveler’s passport is en route to us, I figured it would be nice to return to Aruba, this time as a family.
I am using my exact same method from April’s trip: United miles with free one way for the flights, and Club Carlson points (50,000 points for two nights thanks to my Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card), and a free Radisson hotel voucher that I have that’s soon to be expiring.
I’m sure most advanced readers are aware of this with United, but let’s recap because it’s fairly simple to do.
1.) First, I searched for the round trip travel dates that I wanted to and from Aruba. For the purpose of this post, I am using September 3-10 as an example. I found two saver awards, non-stop flights, for those dates.
That award cost 35,000 miles each round trip, plus $70.60 in taxes
2.) Then, I searched for a saver award from EWR-SNA for a later date. I used September 29 as my example. We have plans to visit friends in Orange County later in the year, so this free one way is actually very handy.
3.) Once I found all of the saver awards that worked for me, I started a new search, this time clicking the “Multiple Destinations” feature.
I selected the same exact flights in mind and soon had this itinerary:
The cost for the 3 flights? 35,000 miles and $76.20 per person.
The keys to making this work are:
- You need to book a round trip international award
- The award classes must be the same (in my example, all 3 flights were saver-space economy)
- The one way needs to be at a later date
Since I am always looking for ways to maximize my miles when it comes to booking trips, this trick is always a no-brainer for me.
I typically earn the bulk of my miles by flying (and earning the 100% elite 1K RDM bonus). I also transfer Ultimate Rewards points into my MileagePlus account.
If you’re running low on United miles, here are some offers to consider:
- Meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card would give you a nice stash of Ultimate Rewards, which transfer 1:1 instantly to United miles
- The public offer for the United MileagePlus Explorer Card is currently 50,000 MileagePlus miles after spending $3,000 within three months.
- If you also got the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Visa Card and add an authorized user, you’d have another 49,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months.