My husband and I saved thousands by paying for our 10th anniversary trip entirely with points

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    The author, Rachel Morgan Cautero.

    Rachel Morgan Cautero

    My husband and I find it hard to travel alone, but we made it a priority for our 10th anniversary.
    We paid for our travel and hotel entirely with points, and we saved by booking months in advance.
    We’ve found it helpful to stay loyal to one hotel chain and one airline as much as possible.

    As parents, it can be hard to carve out time to get away, just the two of you. Add to it the guilt of paying for said trip, and it’s even harder to justify an adults-only trip.

    But my husband and I have made it a priority in recent years to get away, just the two of us, annually. This year was our 10th anniversary, so we wanted to make it even bigger — but we didn’t want the big price tag to go with it. That’s why we decided to cash out our Marriott Bonvoy points and airline points to pay for the entire trip guilt-free. Here’s how.

    Flexibility made our travel cheaper

    We stayed at the JW Marriott Los Cabos, which cost us 200,000 Bonvoy points for a four-night stay. My husband likes to remind me that it took a year and a half to earn that many Bonvoy points, but what better way to spend them than a relaxing tropical getaway just for the two of us?

    Additionally, our flights cost a total of 70,000 Delta miles. We got a great deal on flights by booking six months in advance and being flexible on both travel days and flight times.

    Booking a weekday stay and opting for late or super-early flight times helped lower the cost. Once I’m on an airplane, my eyeshade, neck pillow, and white noise go on, so it doesn’t matter too much that I’m missing out on sleep.

    We also hit the very start of the season in Cabo, which officially begins in April. Not traveling during the height of the season also helped keep total points cost low.

    We use our hotel card for everything

    This one comes with a huge caveat — only use your credit card for everyday purchases if you are committed to paying it off every single month. And I don’t mean making one lump payment each month either; that can make it easy to overspend because your bank account looks temporarily inflated.

    I like to make credit card payments weekly. That way, you stay on track with paying off the balance in full each month. It helps you manage your inflow and outflow when it comes to bills and other direct debits, and paying it weekly really makes you feel the pain, as a friend of mine put it. In other words, it helps you still spend responsibly, even using a credit card.

    That said, we moved almost all of our everyday spending to our Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card in the months leading up to our trip. With this card, you earn increased rewards on gas stations, grocery stores, and eating out — which, let’s face it, was most of our spending anyway.

    But we didn’t stop using our rewards credit card once we got there. We got a point multiplier on purchases at participating Marriott hotels, so even as we were enjoying one trip, we were already working toward the next one.

    We take advantage of work travel

    There are pros and cons to one partner traveling weekly for business when you have kids. The cons are obvious — it can be hard to solo parent, the kids miss the parent whose travels, and you get less quality time as a family. But there are some positives, as well. For one, you make the most of the family time you do have. And importantly, the airline miles and hotel points stack up.

    I had no idea when my husband started traveling several times a month that he’d be racking up as many airline and hotel points as he has. I (incorrectly) assumed that since his employer was paying for the flights and accommodations, we wouldn’t get the points. I was wrong — and it’s been such a great perk for us. We’ve paid for solo trips for myself, fun hotel stays with our kids, and yep, even the entirety of our anniversary trip. So while I sometimes hate that he travels as much as he does, I’ve learned to appreciate a well-timed business trip here and there.

    Brand loyalty pays off

    Picking a brand to be loyal to when it comes to hotels and airlines can pay off big in the long run. We’re Marriott and Delta enthusiasts. Here’s why: Marriott has various tiers of hotels, from higher-end choices like the Ritz Carlton and the JW Marriott, my favorite. Then you have more family-friendly options, like Courtyard by Marriott or Residence Inn. It’s the same with Delta — we picked the airline that fits most of our needs. Delta flies to most destinations we frequent, has excellent customer service, has great lounges, and Delta offers multiple credit cards.

    But there’s time to switch sides, so to speak. When you’ve accumulated the status or points that you want with one brand or airline, you may consider switching to another. That way, you have more options when it comes to booking points-based travel.

    Whether you’re looking to maximize transferrable credit card points for loyalty programs or get your first credit card, our guide to the best credit cards can help you make the right choice. 

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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