Joel Scholtz was invited to visit 10 resorts in Mexico for business, so he used American Airline AAdvantage miles to fly there for free.
Name: Joel Scholtz
Occupation: Travel advisor
Residence: Medford, New Jersey
Credit cards: The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard
Route: Round trip from Philadelphia International Airport to Cancun International Airport
Dates of travel: Sept. 25 - 28, 2018
Airline: American Airlines
Class of service: Premium economy
Q: Did you visit a lounge at the airport?
A: Yes. I visited a Centurion Lounge, a perk of being a cardholder of The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Q: Did you travel alone or with someone?
A: I traveled alone. I was going there for work.
The card and loyalty program
Q: What loyalty program did you use to get a free trip?
A: I used American Airlines AAdvantage points as a Gold status member.
Q: How long were you a cardholder/member at that time?
A: 10 years.
Q: How long were you planning/saving for this trip?
A: The trip was hosted by the resort operator and it was planned four months in advance.
Q: What's your favorite perk of this card/program?
A: I get a free companion ticket annually with my American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard. I can bring up to two guests for $99 each when I spend $30,000 or more each year on the card.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
Redemption and booking
Q: Did you take advantage of promotions while earning points for this trip?
Q: How did you book?
A: American Airlines’ website.
Q: How many miles did this cost?
A: 50,000 miles.
Q: Did you book in conjunction with a promotion or deal?
Q: Any surprises?
A: Not this time. I didn’t get a free upgrade on this flight, but I have been upgraded to business class many times.
What's your next travel rewards goal?
I travel once or twice a month for my travel business so I’m watching for the next opportunity to use miles or points for a flight.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: How I flew for free: Miles to the rescue for a family emergency How I flew for free: Round trip NYC to India using Chase Ultimate Rewards How I flew business class to Bangkok with my family for free