Why You Should Always Check When Booking Airfare

For those of you that have been trying to book AA saver awards from smaller markets or saw Gary’s post on the topic, you are aware that AA seems to be blocking out almost all saver space for smaller cities.

For example, a one way economy ticket from St. Louis to Chicago is now 30,000 AA miles and it is priced like this until at least February 2016.

AA Blocking Saver Space

AA Blocking Saver Space

My parents just moved to St. Louis and I’ve been flying down there every couple of weekends from Chicago. Although it is only a 45 minute flight, a normal fare costs around $450 roundtrip!

Thankfully, I’ve been using Avios to book AA awards and because the distance is less than 750 miles, it has only been costing me 4,500 Avios each way…

Since AA is now blocking Saver space, I haven’t been able to use Avios this past week and had to look into purchasing a revenue ticket.

Thankfully I had some AMEX Platinum and PRG AA reimbursements (aka giftcards) that I used to offset the cost!

As I looked to book a flight home from St. Louis,  I fired up to check the prices and it was coming out to $221 oneway.


$221 STL-ORD

I didn’t think that was a particularly good price since I could have also just taken Amtrak or MegaBus from St. Louis and it would cost only $27 and taken the same amount of time door to door.

Since Chicago is a hub for United, AA, and Southwest, I knew hidden city ticketing was possible.

So for example, St. Louis – Chicago – Columbus, OH might be cheaper than flying St. Louis – Chicago direct…

Enter SkipLagged

While I used to manually use ITA Matrix to do these kind of hidden city ticketing searches, now does it automatically for you.

If you aren’t familiar with the site, SkipLagged is of course being sued by United Airlines for providing this free service to customers and ironically the lawsuit only ended up drawing more free publicity to SkipLagged…

To use, I simply entered my airports and dates and it spit out what was the cheapest flights from STL-ORD.

SkipLagged Can Save You Serious Money!

SkipLagged Can Save You Serious Money!

As you can see the 5.03am United flight and the 6.35am AA flight to Milwaukee via ORD were both $147, while on Kayak the direct STL-ORD with the SAME EXACT SEAT ON THE SAME EXACT FLIGHT was $221!

Thanks to SkipLagged, I was able to save $74 (33%) off of my original ticket.

I went ahead and booked a St. Louis to Milwaukee via Chicago ticket and I simply hopped off in Chicago this morning instead of continuing onwards to Milwaukee.

Word of caution though, if you plan to use SkipLagged, many airlines are not fond of hidden city ticketing so make sure you don’t include your frequent flyer number.


In the end,when booking airline tickets, it really pays to take a few extra minutes and check some other sites.

By using SkipLagged, I was able to easily save 33% off the cost of my original ticket.

While it doesn’t always find you the cheapest fare for every search, it is a good tool to have in your backpocket.


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How To Have A 5 Star Honeymoon For FREE – Part 1

Being in my mid 20s, inevitably many of my Friends are starting to get engaged.

Typically after congratulating the newly engaged couple, the first thing I mention is how they can use Miles and Points to have an unbelievable Honeymoon for free.

Since I have a couple of friends getting married this year, I thought I would type out a step by step guide on how to have a Honeymoon for free in case any Readers are getting married, or knows of anyone getting married.

Obviously I am a bit biased in my opinion but I really believe this information is the best wedding gift you can give ; )

While explaining to my friends how they can take a 5 Star Honeymoon for next to nothing, I realized that Honeymoons really do meet the trifecta for earning frequent flyer miles.

The Honeymoon Trifecta

1. Long Range Planning

The biggest mistake that most people make when earning frequent flyer miles is to not think about the long term.

Although you might not need 50,000 United miles in the next few months, you may need them for a future trip 18 months from now.

The great thing about Honeymoons and Weddings are that the planning starts at least 1 year in advance, so there is plenty of time to earn enough miles and points for it to be free! 

2. Lots Of Planned Expenses

This may not be earth shattering news but Weddings are expensive.

The great thing about Weddings being expensive is that you can charge most of it to your Credit Card, thus easily meeting any Minimum Spend Requirements while earning Miles / Points at the same time!

3. Go Big Or Go Home

Finally, Honeymoons are great because it is the one time you really want to go all out!

On a normal vacation, you might hesitate at paying $800 a night for a suite or spending 150,000 miles on a First Class plane ticket when you can fly in Economy for only 60,000 Miles.

However on a Honeymoon, it is your one time to splurge and not feel bad about it!

This is great because Frequent Flyer Miles and Hotel Points allow you to do exactly that, just at 1/10th the cost!

How To Have A 5 Star Honeymoon For Free – Part 1

So for those of you that are new to Frequent Flyer University and have never before signed up for a Credit Card solely to earn frequent flyer miles, I’d suggest first checking out The Beginners Guide, primarily Lessons 1 & 2.

Additionally to maximize the amount of free nights and frequent flyer miles you earn, I suggest that both the Bride & Groom each apply for their own Cards. I call this “doubling down”!

Pick Your Destination

Before you can choose what Credit Cards to sign up for, the first thing you have to do is figure out where you are going.

If you have already picked your destination, feel free to jump to the next section.

If you need some ideas on where to go, here are 22 best Honeymoon destinations from U.S News.

Hotel Credit Cards

Once you have your destination picked, now comes the fun part.

My suggestion before picking a Hotel Credit Card is to go to each Hotel’s website & and check what properties they have / read any reviews of the property.

There are quite a few choices for Hotel Credit Cards, so I have ranked them in order of how easy it is to earn free nights.

Some Hotel Credit Cards offers Points for signing up and others offer Free Night Certificates.

Typically, the Free Night Certificates are way more valuable than Hotel Points, so I’d recommend aiming for those.


Link To Sign Up For The Hyatt Credit Card With 2 Free Nights

In my opinion, the Hyatt Visa is the best Hotel Credit Card currently available!

The reason is simple.

Just by signing up for the Chase Hyatt Credit Card, you get 2 Free Night Certificates as soon as you spend $1,000 on the Card.

These Free Night Certificates can be used at any Hyatt Hotels in the World including the ultra luxurious Park Hyatt, which normally start at around $300 a night!

There is no cap on the value of the Free Night Certificates, so as you will see below, you can go absolutely nuts and stay at $1,000 a night properties FOR FREE!

If the Bride and the Groom each sign up for this Credit Card, then that is 4 Free Nights.

I know Parents always want to help with their Kid’s Honeymoon, so this is the perfect opportunity.

If Mom and Dad also sign up for the the Hyatt Credit Card, then that is an additional 4 Free Nights, for a grand total of 8 Free Nights!

While many Credit Cards come with some sort of Minimum Spend Requirements, there are literally no additional costs to getting these free nights.

A full list of Hyatt Properties can be found here.

Below is a video from one of my favorite Hyatt properties, the Park Hyatt Maldives. 

If I was going on a Honeymoon, this definitely the place I would pick.

Rooms at the Park Hyatt Maldives start at around $900 a night, so 2 Free Night Certificates would save you around $1,800!

Below are some other awesome Hyatt properties that get rave reviews!

I have pulled these prices from and plugged in September 14, 2013 for the check-in date, just to show just how much money these Free Night Certificates can save you.

Remember that the prices below are per a night, so multiply that price by the 4 Free Nights you would get if both the Bride and Groom signed up for the Hyatt Card!


Link To Sign Up For The Fairmont Card With 2 Free Nights

Chase also has another Hotel Credit Card that offers 2 Free Night Certificates at Fairmont Hotels after you spend $1,000 in 3 months.

Many people may not be familiar with the Fairmont brand because they only have a limited number of properties worldwide, however the properties that they do have are EXTREMELY luxurious.

A full list of Fairmont properties and locations can be found here.

Since the Fairmont Credit Card is also issued by Chase, you can’t sign up for both the Hyatt and Fairmont Card at the same time, but you certainly can apply for one and then apply for the other one in 3 months.

While there is a $1,000 Minimum Spend Requirement on the Fairmont Visa, it is definitely still worth it because Fairmont properties are so nice!

Below are 2 fabulous Fairmont properties that would make a excellent Honeymoon destination!


Link To Sign Up For The Marriott Premier 50,000 Point Credit Card Offer

While Chase does also offer a Marriott Credit Card with a 50,000 Point Sign On Bonus, the reason why the Hyatt and Fairmont Card are far more valuable than Marriott’s is because both of those Cards give you 2 Free Night Certificates which you can use anywhere regardless of what “category” the property falls under.

All Hotels place their properties into different “categories” for Rewards purposes.

A full list of Marriott’s property locations and rewards categories can be found here.

So a Hotel’s 1 Star property might be a Category 1 or 2 and cost only a few thousand points for a Rewards Night, while a Hotel’s 5 Star property might cost 50,000 Points for a Rewards Night. 

As you can see from the Marriott’s Points Reward Chart below, with 50,000 Marriott Points that you will receive by signing up for the Marriott Credit Card and spending $1,000 within 3 months, you would only be able to get 1 free night at a Category 8 property since it costs 40,000 Marriott Points a night.

So with the Hyatt and Fairmont Cards, you could get 2 Free Nights, but with the Marriott Card you would only get 1 Free Night.

Of course there might not be a Hyatt or Fairmont at your Honeymoon destination, or there might be a very specific Marriott property that you would like to stay at, in that case then I’d suggest that you each get the Marriott Card and get 100,000 Marriott Points total.

Also Marriott does own Ritz Carlton, so if you would like to stay at a Ritz Carlton property, then it might make sense to sign up for the Marriott Card since you can use Marriott Points at Ritz Carlton.


Hilton is a unique case in that they offer 2 Credit Cards, one that gets you 40,000 Hilton Points and the other that gets you 2 Free Weekend Night Certificates.

What is nice is that the Hilton Credit Cards are issued by Citibank and not Chase, so if you wanted you could apply for any of the Chase Cards above AND a Citi Hilton Card and get both Sign On Bonuses!

Link To Hilton Visa – 40,000 Hilton Points After Spending $1,000 In 4 Months

Link To Hilton Reserve Visa – 2 Free Weekend Night Certificates After Spending $2,500 In 4 Months

While the Hilton Rewards Chart is similar to Marriott’s, in that it takes quite a few Points for a free night, the Hilton Free Night Certificates are pretty valuable.

Hilton also owns Waldorf Astoria as well as Conrad Hotels, so they do have some pretty amazing properties in places like Tahiti that would definitely make for an awesome Honeymoon!

A full list of Hilton properties and locations can be found here.


Hopefully this tutorial has shown you just how valuable Hotel Points can be in helping you have a 5 Star Honeymoon for free.

Just by you and your Partner signing up for 1 Credit Card like the Hyatt Credit Card, you can get 4 FREE nights at properties that cost upwards of $500 a night.

Remember that as long as the Credit Cards aren’t issued by the same Bank (primarily Chase), you can apply for a Hotel Credit Card from Chase and Citibank on the same day without issue!

If you were to sign up for a Chase issued Card and a Citibank issued Card, you could possibly end up with 8 free nights at either Hyatt, Fairmont, or Hilton at no cost to you!

In Part 2 of this series (coming soon!), we will explore how to earn enough free frequent flyer miles to get a free Business or First Class ticket to your Honeymoon destination..

In the mean time, I suggest starting the Honeymoon process now by applying for any of the above Cards.

The earlier you start the process, the better it is because once you have your new Cards and Free Night Certificates in hand, you can go ahead and reserve your rooms and avoid any drama with not finding availability!

If you have any questions about anything in this post, feel free to email me at!

I love answering Reader questions and emails!


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