I’m happy to help with travel dilemmas whenever I can and encourage you to reach out with this Dear Deal Mommy series, at firstname.lastname@example.org as well as via Facebook or twitter.
Reader Dave sent the following (edited for clarity): My wife and I are based in Houston, Texas but fly out of Dallas on occasion also. After our recent redemptions I have 60,000 American Express points, 50,000 United miles, and 65,000 Hyatt points left. We like New York, Boston, London, Paris, and Italy.
What would YOU do with these to get the most bang?
I LOVE this question. It’s a perfect example of taking a good inventory of what you have and then discovering what you can do. It’s also a perfect excuse to pull out my Destination Anywhere? checklist.
Using the checklist as a guide, I learned that Dave is ok with coach (which is what he can afford with what he has right now), flexible with dates, and prefers Hyatt but is comfortable with Regency/Place as opposed to Park Hyatt for the savings. If he does a domestic trip, it would be a long weekend. International? A week to 10 days. The destinations aren’t set in stone, but ideas.
Dave is also done applying for cards for a while. He knows whatever he does will have a cash component, and is looking for the best mix of miles/cash.
All right- let’s turn this mish-mosh into a trip!
I Confess to Cheating
I’m building off my last Dear Deal Mommy in which I discussed using Avios transferred to American Express from Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus. He would need 50,000 for 2 coach round trip tickets. Luckily, Dave and his wife live near two hubs so getting to Boston shouldn’t be too expensive on cash tickets. They could even spend a night there on the way. Our last trip to Europe was on the same route with cash tickets bought from Washington National.
Alternatively, Dave could collect 10,000 United Miles by charging his bills to a United or Chase Ultimate Rewards card for a few months. With 60,000 United miles and 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points (transferred to Air Canada) he could get to Europe from Dallas. They could book one ticket on the same flight on each program, similar to what I did to get the Deal Family to Asia. Both Air Canada and United are in the Star Alliance, which makes this possible.
Once They Get to Dublin
Dublin is the main hub for Ryanair-Europe’s bare bones discount carrier. You don’t have to fly Ryanair to benefit from this-the fares from Dublin on the legacy carriers have to competitive as well.
Here’s where I would let the time of year dictate my itinerary as I know from experience how both Paris and London can get with even a dusting of snow. I wouldn’t wish my British Airways Heathrow nightmare on anyone!
If you’re going March-November I think a week in London and Paris would be lovely and is do-able with points and cash. With P&C you also get stay credit. I’m a fan of the Hyatt Etoile in Paris as it’s on top of the metro just 10 minutes away from the Louvre. At 7,500 points and $100 a night it’s a bargain. In London I have a soft spot for the Churchill as they rescued me from BA purgatory, but the Andaz looks equally lovely. The Churchill was also very recently renovated. Either would be 12,500 and $150 points and cash. With 65,000 points you could do 3 nights in London and 3 in Paris.
Winter? I’d save your Hyatt Points and use Luxury Link. They have so many lovely properties in the $100/night range and I just don’t see the appeal of going to Italy just to stay in Milan at the Hyatt. I can’t recommend Matera highly enough if you want to get off the beaten path.
Or you could chuck all of the above and spend a long weekend at one of the Hyatt All-Inclusives.
What would you do with Dave’s balances? Please share in the comments.
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