Why Points/Miles?

Have you ever had a travel day like this?

If you’ve ever had the following thoughts:
– “I have to check my carry-on because I’m in Zone 37 and the overhead bin space is now full? Wow!”
– “I should’ve chosen an aisle seat. I don’t like climbing over other passengers to use the bathroom.”
– “Who has the “right” to the armrest? Me or the person in the middle seat?”
– “This is a 7-hour flight and all I get is a Sprite and some crackers?”
– “(Realization) Apparently, it’s frowned upon to ask for more crackers.”
– “This seat doesn’t recline?”
– “Wow, the people sitting in the front of the plane look really happy. How much does it cost to sit up there?”

…you’re in the right place.

I would argue that most people wouldn’t decline an upgrade to the front of the plane. More space, comfortable seats, personal attention, real food that includes unlimited sprite and crackers…what’s not to love?


Let’s start with a concrete example with real numbers to illustrate this concept. Although your budget may not be the same, focus on the big picture because this concept works with ANY budget.

My wife and I are planning a week-long vacation with another couple to travel from Los Angeles to Dubai. Both couples live a very similar lifestyle and have the same budget for this trip: $6000


Our friends begin their research and discover they have two options 1) book a slightly cheaper flight that connects in Europe and then continues onto Dubai or 2) fly on a non-stop Emirates Airlines flight. 

The couple determines they have heard a lot of great things about Emirates and don’t want to waste time with a European connection. They decide to buy the Emirates economy direct flight (below).

Additional expenditures:
Mid-range Dubai Hotel: $150/nt (x7 days) = $1050
Excursion: 4×4 Desrt Adventure with Dinner & ATV Experience $100 (per person) = $200
Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off Bus $100 (per person) = $200

Remaining Balance:

$6000 – 4000 (airline tickets) – 1500 (hotel & excursions) = ~$500

Meals: I sure hope the remaining ~$500 can cover all meals for two people…for a week. Dubai can be expensive!

Couple 2

My wife and I have been, strategically, collecting our miles and points from various credit cards. We would like to travel on the same flight as our friends and determine that “cashing in” miles for two business class tickets on Emirates is solid redemption. We pay the taxes and fees associated with award tickets which total $200.

My wife and I, also, want to stay at the same hotel and go on the same excursions as our friends.

Additional expenditures:
Mid-range Dubai: $150/nt (x7 days) = $1050
Excursion: 4×4 Desrt Adventure with Dinner & ATV Experience $100 (per person) = $200
Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off Bus $100 (per person) = $200

Remaining Balance:

$6000 – 200 (award fees) – 1500 (excursions) = $4300

Both couples have a great time and look forward to next years annual trip.


Couple 1

  • Emirates Economy Class for 32 hours round-trip
  • After paying for hotel & 2 excursions they have ~$500 remaining for food
  • Have to monitor their spending so they do not exceed the budget for the week

Couple 2

  • Emirates Business Class for 32 hours round-trip
  • After paying for hotel & 2 excursions, they have ~$4300 remaining for food
  • We, conservatively, reserve $1300 for food 
  • Also contemplate using the remaining $3000 for another trip (Maybe a trip to Fiji?)


Contrary to the popular belief, tricks aren’t only for kids. They are for adults that want to improve the quality and quantity of their travel experiences, and spend less to visit the far reaches of the world.

The example above is a simplification of the process. $6000 is A LOT of money (at least in my world) to spend on a trip. However, I want to give you a solid example of how points can be leveraged to subsidize a trip. With a little pre-planning and the right miles, literally, anything is possible. 

But it gets better! The best part about points and miles hobby is that it doesn’t require you to do anything extra. You can acquire points by eating out, putting gas in your car, paying your cell phone bill, etc. Those are all activities that you’re going to do, right? Why not get points for doing it?

You in?

p.s. just curious…what couple would you rather be? Couple 1 or 2? 😉 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s