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NerdWallet Superusers: Best Vacations We’ve Taken With Credit Card Points

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To enter to win $1,500 toward a vacation rental on HomeAway, comment on our Facebook post, or send us an email at creditcardpointscontest@nerdwallet.com telling us how you used points or miles from your credit cards to take an awesome vacation. 

To kick off our first Jet-setter Credit Card Points Vacation Contest, we’ve asked some of the credit card maximizers at NerdWallet to share how they’ve used credit card points or airline miles to create memorable vacations. Find out where they went and how they got maximum value from their card rewards. (Hint: It starts with card sign-up bonuses.)

Cliff Goldstein, Business Development

Q: Where did you last go on vacation with credit card points?

Cliff Goldstein strolling the streets in Sayulita, Mexico.

Cliff Goldstein strolling the streets in Sayulita, Mexico.

CG: I use points for pretty much every trip I take, but the last one I took was to Mexico City and Sayulita for 10 days.

Q: How did you use points to cover the cost?
CG: For this one, I simply bought my tickets through the American Express points, since I wanted to fly United but they are not a transfer partner with American Express. These points were left over from the sign-up bonus I received when signing up for a card last year.

Q: How often do you use points to travel?
CG: I always pay for my trips with points! I tend to sign up for one or two new credit cards per year with large sign-up bonuses. These, plus the points from my spending, give me plenty to use for vacations.

Q: Planning on doing it again?
CG: Of course! I’ll always take a free flight.

Lindsay Konsko, User Operations

Q: Where have you gone on vacation with credit card points?

Lindsay Konsko checks out the sights in London.

Lindsay Konsko checking out the sights in London.

LK: I use points or miles almost every time I take a vacation. The last big trip I took with points was to London, where I used miles to cover the entire cost of the airfare. This summer, I’ll be going to Seattle, Brussels and Portland, Oregon, and again, the airfare will be entirely paid for with points!

Q: How did you use points to cover the cost?
LK: For the London trip, I knew I wanted to travel during a particular time of year (fall), but I played around with different dates to maximize the value of my miles. I should probably also mention that the miles I used for this trip were entirely from a credit card sign-up bonus — I “saved” the miles from the sign-up bonus to use on this big trip.

Q: How often do you use points to travel?
LK: Since I joined NerdWallet full time in 2014, I’ve used points or miles to cover some portion of almost every trip I’ve taken. Before that, I used to just find the lowest-cost airfare and hotels for my travel, but that’s still really expensive. Points and miles take a lot of the financial stress out of travel if you’re willing to be organized and diligent about using rewards wisely.

Q: Planning on doing it again?
LK: For sure! I’m working on a sign-up bonus right now.

Josie Jeffries, Brand Design

Q: Where did you go on vacation with credit card points?
JJ: Honeymoon to the Maldives.

Credit card points going a long way for Josie Jeffries in the Maldives.

Credit card points going a long way for Josie Jeffries in the Maldives.

Q: How did you use points to cover the cost?
JJ: We used points from sign-up bonuses, Chase credit card miles and other limited offers to book first-class round-trip tickets to the Maldives. Both my husband and I opened Hyatt credit cards. Part of their sign-up bonus includes two free nights at any Hyatt in the world. Between the two of us, we had four free nights (and when you book four nights, you get a fifth night free) at one of the fanciest Hyatt locations in the world.

Q: What gave you the idea to pay for your vacation using points?
JJ: We couldn’t have afforded it otherwise!
Q: Planning on doing it again?
JJ: Always! We have gone to Vietnam and Hong Kong using a similar combo of hotel and airline awards.

As our resident maximizers demonstrate, traveling can be an affordable luxury if you plan ahead, stay on the lookout for good offers and get the most out of your credit card rewards. Itching to get going? Start researching the perfect travel rewards card for you, and get a head start on that dream vacation.

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