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How to Enjoy More Travel With Reward Opportunities

More travel over New year
Source: Ludovick via Flickr

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you have a great year with bag loads more travel using the tips I bring you to earn more airmiles and hotel rewards. I have some ambitious travel hacking goals this year so I will be on the hunt for ever more ingenious ways to earn.

With the New Year comes my quarterly update of reward earnings, but before that, how about you?

What are your 2016 plans for more travel?

My goal for 2016 is quite simple. I would like to collect a further 245,000 points so that I can book a dream trip to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in 2018.

You may think I’m sad for thinking about 2018 plans when 2016 has barely begun, but if I’m to bag the flights I want, then I am going to have to have those points in place by April 2017 and I estimate I need a whopping 345,000 for this trip.

My ten year wedding anniversary trip

More travel to celebrate our anniversary
The best day of my life…

My plan is to fly to New Zealand in Club class with stop overs in Las Vegas (and possibly the South Pacific). I have been raving to my husband for the entire time we have been together about the beauty of New Zealand; the turquoise glacial waters, the peaks of the Remarkables, the serenity of Milford Sound, the hospitality of the Kiwis and the fabulous wines of course.

Alas, every time I start reminiscing it reminds me of how much I want to go back, but a comment along the lines of ‘I can’t face the journey‘ quickly ensues. In short, I am still somewhat traumatised by the 36 hour horror of my last flight back from NZ.

Time has done nothing to dull the memory of endless queues at LAX, the lack of shower facilities en route, interminable stopovers and the god awful airline I was flying with. The added knowledge that I was returning home to a rocky relationship and a job I hated did nothing to ease the terrible journey (thankfully both long behind me!).

I have resolved therefore that the only way I can possibly revisit NZ, other than on a one way ticket, is to get there in style, and to celebrate our ten-year anniversary it is only fitting that we do it in Club. Ideally I would like to upgrade to First but that might be a step too far.

I have yet to decide exactly how I am going to get there as British Airways, rather surprisingly, do not fly to New Zealand (what?!) so it looks like I am going to have to fly British Airways to Las Vegas (125,000 off-peak in Club using my companion voucher) and then Alaska Airlines to New Zealand (110,000 each for business: watch out for this challenge in a future post!)

More travel down under
Milford Sound, New Zealand

It is going to be a highly challenging but motivating goal in 2016. Hopefully you have some ambitious plans for more travel in 2016. Perhaps you are joining the #Take12Trips challenge or maybe you are planning a more exotic escapade.

Feel free to share your plans in the comments below as I would love to hear them. I may even be able to give you a few pointers to help you on your way.

First, however, let’s get down to the business of how I got on in 2015.

2015 Round-up

So here is the round-up of how I got on last quarter and for 2015 as a whole. Putting into action all the tips I bring you, I managed to have my best year yet for travel hacking and enjoyed lots more travel, even indulging in some reward mini breaks.

The numbers may seem paltry compared to those our American pals might rack up (but then they can earn a whopping 100,000 sign up bonus for just one credit card. Sob sob, where are those kind of deals in the UK?!) but I’ve earned enough to grab a long haul Club class flight for two using a British Airways companion voucher.

Q4 2015 RoundUp

Sum of AVIOS % of Total
Avios Store 11648 28.78%
Credit Card 11307 27.94%
Flights 5544 13.70%
Tesco 4560 11.27%
Iberia offer 3200 7.91%
Surveys 2700 6.67%
Other 912 2.25%
Heathrow Rewards 500 1.24%
Shell 100 0.25%
Grand Total 40,471 100.00%

Not surprisingly the biggest earners were the AVIOS store and credit cards with flights coming in third position. I actually only took one qualifying flight with OneWorld in the quarter but it just happened to be to Mexico City.

It also wasn’t a bumper quarter for credit cards as I was unable to apply for any new cards with big sign up bonuses. That drought has now come to an end and the British Airways Premium Plus card is on its way with the allure of 25,000 bonus points once I spend £3,000 in 3 months.

2015 AVIOS Roundup

Here are the numbers for the entire year, a significant increase from around 100,000 total in 2014 largely based on all the tips I have been picking up, and sharing with you guys.

Sum of AVIOS % of Total
Credit Card 79249 49.23%
Avios Store 25634 15.93%
Flights 22850 14.20%
Tesco 8400 5.22%
Hotels (IHG) 6000 3.73%
Hotels (Hilton) 4000 2.49%
Surveys 3854 2.39%
Iberia offer 3200 1.99%
BA Store 3046 1.89%
Hotels (Marriott) 2000 1.24%
Hotels (Radisson) 1200 0.75%
Other 912 0.57%
Heathrow Rewards 500 0.31%
 Shell 100 0.07%
Grand Total 160,965 100.00%

Again you can see that the majority of the points come from credit cards and AVIOS shop spending. I have recently joined up to the Inside Flyer forum and the Travel Hacking Cartel and have picked up some extra pointers on other ways to earn points, so be sure to check those out too.

The advice from the forum is invaluable!

Suggested Travel Hacking Goals

With 160,000, you could book return flights (all peak costings unless stated) from London to:

First Class

Toronto for 160,000 points

New York for 160,000 points

Club Class

Vancouver for 150,000 points

Shanghai (off peak) for 150,000 points

Cape Town for 150,000 points

Sao Paulo (off peak) for 150,000 points

More travel to Cape Town
Source: David Stanley via Flickr

Of course, if you have a companion voucher, then two can travel for the price of one subject to paying taxes and fees. I’m not denying those charges can add up for British travellers, but when used to book flights in Club or First, the savings are huge, and usually will cost less than the price of economy tickets for the same trip.

So set your ‘more travel in 2016 goals‘ or decide to upgrade your travel, and get hunting down those deals. Here’s some tips to help you.

Golden Rules to Achieve Your Travel Hacking Goals

  1. Get a credit card which allows you to earn points for your chosen airline AND preferably a whopping sign up bonus (be sure to check the terms and conditions as some cards incur an annual charge). First download the free infographic highlighting the golden rules of using credit cards to travel hack.
  2. Put as much of your spending on the card as possible, always ensuring you can pay it off in FULL each month
  3. Sign up for the airline’s online shopping portal which allows you to earn for every pound of spend in hundreds of stores and benefit from multiplied earnings
  4. Check out the full series of Business For Less which gives you tons of tips for how you can fly business for less than economy
  5. Sign up for regular updates here on the site, or follow me on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing deals and information
More Travel through managing your finances
Source: GotCredit

How Have You Been Earning Points?

Of course, the last thing that remains to be said is that I would love to know how you have been getting on.

What has been your personal success story, and how have you been booking more travel? Don’t be shy….I love it when people talk to me, so just drop a comment in the box below and get in on the conversation.

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About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips

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