It’s been a good one, 2013.
In 2013 I started Well Traveled Mile, traveled to new places and earned close to 500,000 points and miles. After an amazing year I wanted to wrap up with a review of the points earned and burned throughout 2013. Included in this list are the points I earned from credit card offers, but not from flights or other promotions.
Most of the points I earned this year, were geared towards travel and specifically for my trip that lasted over a month throughout Turkey and Croatia. I flew business class on Turkish Airlines and stayed in some of the best suites along the Adriatic and had a blast doing so. Here is a breakdown of the rewards earnings of the year and what I did with them:
I applied for this card earlier this year because I wanted to earn the bonus before the card id pulled due to the American Airlines and US Airways merger. Simply put, this is a great opportunity to earn 35,000 miles that will eventually gets combined into your AAdvantage account.
I jumped on the targeted 70,000 points plus one free night at a category 1-4 hotel offer back in April. I still have all of the points from this offer, but redeemed the free night certificate at the Renaissance Resort in Antalya, Turkey. We had an amazing stay at the property and enjoyed lounging on the beach as well as the all-inclusive meals and drinks that we opted in for at check-in for an extra $60.
During my first round of applications, I focused on earning free hotel nights so I applied for the American Express Hilton HHonors card to earn 50,000 Hilton points. During our Euro trip, we ended up spending two nights at the Hilton DoubleTree property in Zagreb, Croatia for $50 + 12,000 points (cash and points redemption).
After earning the 85,000 sign-up bonus on the business version of this card, I applied for the personal version several months later. The personal card also has a 85,000 bonus point sign-up offer after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months. After earning both bonuses, I ended up redeeming 144,000 points for six free nights on my trip to Europe. The card gives me automatic Gold status and I received a room upgrade at each property, which added more value to the bonus points. During this trip, I stayed at the Radisson Blu Bosphorus, Radisson Blu Dubrovnik Sun Gardens, and the Radisson Blu Split and had phenomenal stays at each
The 80,000 bonus points that came with this card can go a long way. Aside from using them on the amazing PointBreaks deals that are offered, I decided to book a 4 night stay at the Holiday Inn Sisli, Istanbul. Rooms at this hotel normally go for ~$344 a night and booking a room with points was only 15,000 per night. This was a great deal for an amazing hotel, plus we were upgraded to a suite on the top level. We enjoyed walking around the Sisli neighborhood and loved that the metro station was just a block away so we could hop on to get down to Taksim or other parts of the city very easily.
I got the 50,000 points offer back in April as well and have not used any of the points, so my AA miles account is fully stocked for 2014. I am looking forward to booking a business or first class trip to Asia or possibly a shorter trip to somewhere in Central America this coming year.
I jumped on the limited time 50,000 Chase Sapphire Preferred offer that popped up around a month ago. On top of that I also earned 5,000 bonus points for adding an additional authorized user. Most likely I will wait to transfer these points to either United, Korean Air, or Hyatt in the future
The Barclays Arrival Plus card is a card that I have wanted for quite some time so I added it to my last round of card applications. I love the fact that it earns 2.2% on ALL purchases, which makes it a hassle free card to keep in my wallet for everyday spending. On top of that, the 40,000 point sign-up (worth $440 in travel) offer only has a $3,000 minimum spend.
The two free nights certificates that come with this card offer much more value that the typical points bonus for a Hilton credit card. I plan on using them at either the Conrad Hong Kong or Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand on my upcoming trip to Asia.
Total Points Earned = 465,000 + 3 free night certificates
Total Points Redeemed = 403,000 + 1 free night certificate
I used 80,000 United miles to fly to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines business class in August, on my return flight I flew from Zagreb on Lufthansa economy class. I found Turkish Airlines business class to be a great product (food, seats, lounge), but the service (flight attendants) was not as refined as it could have been.
Southwest Companion Pass
I also earned the Southwest Companion Pass this year and went on a short trip to Puerto Rico a couple weeks ago. I flew from Portland to Puerto Rico for a total of 30,000 points and $10 in taxes. I also flew a friend with me who technically flew for free with the exception of the $10 taxes and fees. The Companion Pass is a huge perk because it lets you fly a companion for free on any flights you book–both paid and with points.
I earned 100,000 Rapid Rewards points from getting both the business and personal version of the Chase Southwest Visa cards, which at the time offered 50k for each. Southwest awards the Companion Pass after earning 110,000 points within a calendar year, so after hitting the minimum spending requirements I only needed to earn an additional 6,000 points. This is by far one of the easiest and most lucrative ways to get free domestic travel since the companion pass is good for the remaining year plus the whole next calendar year.
Overall 2013 was a healthy year of points earning with a lot of fun redeeming them on my travels. I look forward to just as an exciting year ahead with 2014 as I continue to grow Well Traveled Mile. Additionally, as always I love hearing about readers stories and comments. Have a great 2014!
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