One of my favorite things about amassing miles and points is the ability to say yes.
Have friends getting married in a foreign locale? No problem.
Dying to go to a hot new destination you just read about? Take a weekend trip.
Got a last-minute invitation to visit friends on a holiday weekend? Go. We did.
This past summer some friends were making plans to go to Dallas for Labor Day weekend and asked if we wanted to join them.
Have You Been to Dallas Lately?
There are a lot of more traditional places to go for a holiday weekend, but the more we looked into Dallas with its national parks, beaches, and amusement parks the more we were intrigued.
Though its perhaps best known in tourism circles for its museum and monument to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jr., Dallas has undergone an incredible renaissance in the last decade. A vibrant arts district, complete with the requisite park lined with food trucks, has essentially blossomed out of nothing.
Psyched to check out Dallass new charms, particularly the world-renowned Nasher Sculpture center, the trip was pretty much a go. A quick Kayak search showed that fares were still surprisingly low, at around $300 roundtrip depending on the dates and times.
We had also been hearing high praise from friends who’ve visited Austin, so with the prospect of a quick day trip out to Texas weird city, we were hooked.
Where There’s a Will, There’s an Avios Way
Anytime were traveling somewhere domestic but not coast-to-coast, I always start my award flight searches with British Airways.
Though they’re part of the smaller oneworld alliance, which has fewer partners overall, for domestic travel they unlock all the doors you need to get pretty much anywhere through partnerships with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and US Airways.
The best part? You’ll only pay the lowest possible redemption rate on these carriers. For folks like me looking a little later than they should to get away for a holiday weekend, that’s a godsend. If there’s an open award seat on a partner airline, you can get it for Avios pricing, which not only stays low even when award seats are in demand, but also costs fewer miles due to British Airways distance-based award pricing.
Unfortunately, Dallas is a little far from my home base of New York City to be in the lowest British Airways pricing bucket (9,000 Avios round-trip), but I was able to find literally dozens of flights available for 20,000 Avios per person. That’s 25 percent less than I could possible pay with domestic carriers, which uniformly charge 25,000 miles round-trip domestically no matter how far you’re going.
Despite the holiday weekend, we were able to get exactly the flights we needed, leaving early Saturday morning and returning early Tuesday to get back in time for work.
How can you get these insanely useful points? Thankfully, Avios are actually some of the easiest points to come by. You can transfer points from Chase, Starwood Preferred Guest or American Express Membership Rewards programs or earn them directly through the British Airways Visa Signature Card credit card.
A Low-Cost Holiday Weekend Booked in Minutes
Chase Ultimate Rewards has instant transfers to British Airways, so within just a few minutes, we transferred 40,000 ultimate reward points to British Avios and $22.40 later, we were on our way to Dallas.
Now, where to stay?
Since I focus my earning on transferable points, Starwood Preferred Guest is our main source for hotel bookings. I took a quick look on their website and turned up a double queen room for 7,000 points per night.
SGP points are incredibly valuable, and were saving them for a special holiday Nights & Flights getaway (more on that soon), so I opted for the Cash & Points rate and got a room for three nights for 3,500 Starpoints plus $55.
It’s not a great cash and points redemption, but Starpoints are very valuable, so in this case it made more sense for us to contribute some cash. And since the room cost about $200 per night, even at a 1 cent per Starpoint valuation, we only paid $90 a night before taxes, so I thought it was a great deal in an otherwise expensive hotel town.
It just goes to show: If you don’t make your holiday weekend plans early enough, consider non-traditional vacation spots. You’ll not only find great deals on points travel, but you may just find a new vacation spot to fall in love with.