How I Used My US Airways Companion Certificate

I’ve gotten into the miles and points collecting game this year and have been having a blast doing it. I wanted to get this thread going so we can share ideas, help each other book free flights/hotels, etc.

In a nutshell, this “game” is strategically collecting miles and airlines points through credit card bonuses, specific categorical spending, and hopping on whatever bonuses you can.

In about six months of playing this game I’ve now accumulated:

– 130,000 American Airlines points
– US Airways Companion Certificate
– 20k Hilton points and two free weekend night certificates
– 12k Starwood points (will be 25k after this month’s rent clears)
– $440 statement credit, which paid for my AirBNB when I went to Budapest (http://thisistrouble.com/2015/04/22/the-…ian-girls/)
– 70,000 IHG points

EXAMPLE: To give a little perspective, I’m heading to Chicago in July with my girl. We’re staying for five nights. Here’s how it looks from a miles/points perspective.

– Round trip flights from LA to Chicago: $550 (US Airways companion cert allows for a $99 fare on the second/third flyer. If not for this it would have cost ~$775. This wasn’t a great deal but I had to book this certificate by September, and with the US Airways/American merger it’s getting harder to get USAir flights).

– Two nights at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago (http://waldorfastoria3.hilton.com/en/hot…index.html): FREE

– Two nights at the W Chicago Lakeshore (http://www.wchicago-lakeshore.com/): $220 + points

– One night at a Sheraton airport hotel which is also free.

So in review, we’re staying at five star hotels for almost NOTHING. The W Chicago could have been free, but I wanted to bank some extra points so elected to pay a bit of cash. And frankly, I still don’t know all the ins and outs of this game, so I’m sure I could have gotten a BETTER value out of my points if I wanted to. But considering that our nights at the Waldorf are going for nearly $500/night now, and the W is $260/night, it doesn’t look so bad.

Completely broken down, I paid about $750 for all flights and four days of lodging at top tier hotels. That’s not too bad.

EXAMPLE 2: Here’s what those 130,000 American Airlines points can (potentially) get you:

Source: http://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/redeem…-chart.jsp

– Nearly round trip first class to Asia
– Three round trip economy trips to Europe
– Five round trips in economy to Central America

I didn’t start this miles and points fascination because I had dreams of jetting myself around the world in first class. It didn’t start with ambitions of dipping my feet into the warm water of the Maldives, or overlooking the canals of Venice. I’m a much simpler guy than that.

The miles and points fascination began simply because I was tired of paying as much as I was for rent.

My home is in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is a big city, and there are plenty of places that are “reasonably” priced. However, my job is in Santa Monica, which is one of the most expensive areas of the city – hell, the entire country. Why don’t I just move somewhere cheaper? Because then I’d be dealing with a minimum of an hour commute each way in traffic. I value my time far too high to be willing to give up two hours, five days a week, sitting in my car.

Of course this means that I’m paying over $2,000 a month to rent my apartment. I wanted a way to “minimize” this sting, and I found the miles game. There are services that allow you to pay rent on card for a 3% fee. So yeah, every month I tack on another $60 of rent, but I’m redeeming awards that are worth WAY more than that. The Hilton card that gave me the two free nights (and 20k points just from spending) had a minimum spend of $2,500 over three months. Considering that the nights at the Waldorf are worth nearly $1,000, it’s a GREAT trade in my eyes to take the $1,000 reward for a $60 fee.

Just be aware that you can’t play this game if you have bad credit – NO EXCEPTIONS. Fix that before you start trying to cheat the system.

With that being said, let’s discuss it. I’ve started a blog to track my progress in this and have written about ten articles. Not quite sure when I’ll really advertise it or if I even want to dedicate the time. So, I’m happy to answer any questions I can here, or at least point you to a better blog that could probably do a better job of answering it.

Let’s travel, gents.