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How Jeanne Saved our Vacation (with the Chase Ink Bold)

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Airport_Travel_and_Related_005About two months ago we planned a trip to Hawaii to see family over there. We were going to non-rev, so our plan was to leave after Christmas and before New Year’s when we hoped flights would be less full. Only one of us made it on the non-stop out of DFW; the others had to go through LAX, but still we all made it out there by December 31st.

The first week all went as planned as we hung out on Oahu, then the six of us were going to fly to the Big Island for six nights. We bought one-way tickets for the four of us to Kona since our original plan was to non-rev out of Kona. If flights started looking bad we’d go back to Honolulu and try to get out of there.

Towards the end of the trip we started looking at flights home and they weren’t looking good. At least not for the day we planned on leaving (Saturday night). If we could wait until Monday night we’d be fine; but then we’d have two extra days of hotel and rental car costs and my husband really needed to be back at work before then.

I was getting frustrated and felt like I was in Apollo 13 where they’re literally being told to figure out how to put a square peg in a round hole:

Then my cousin asked me “well, don’t you have miles or something you can use?”

Miles! Chase! United!

ink boldJeanne was the one who initially suggested and encouraged us to get both a Chase Sapphire and a Chase Ink card. We got them at different times and managed to hit the minimum spending on both cards to get us the extra bonus points. Chase allows you to transfer points 1:1 to certain airlines and hotels. One of those airlines is United. United allows you to book one-way reward flights. When I looked earlier this year; I noticed they sometimes they still had rewards available for international flights only a day or two out. I was hoping that was also true for Hawaii.

I was able to get three tickets to DFW flying out the next night for 20,000 points and $80 each; but unfortunately I could only get the fourth to Phoenix. I put my husband and the kids on the flights to DFW, put myself on the Phoenix one and figured, worst-case scenario, I could always non-rev home from Phoenix by myself.

I owe Jeanne and huge THANK YOU (and at least one glass of wine) for convincing us to get our Chase cards. Though staying in Hawaii longer isn’t the worst thing in the world by a long stretch; we were able to get back home when we needed to be and it saved us the extra hotel, rental car and/or flight costs we would have accumulated had we gotten stuck for several more days waiting to non-rev home.


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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.

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