The $1,500 Mistake I Made When Reserving Reward Journey


pained young man beside suitcase in airport

Picture supply: Getty Pictures

In the event you suppose common fuel is expensive, take a look at this fuel-related expense.


Key factors

  • Some carriers impose further charges on award tickets that may flip “free” journey into an enormous expense.
  • Including a brief, typically cheap, leg in your journey can typically prevent some huge cash.
  • Transferable rewards provide the most effective flexibility to cope with last-minute hiccups.

I’m a self-identified rewards addict. I think about maximizing my bank card rewards to be an precise pastime. And a very good sign-up bonus could make me drool like Pavlov’s hounds throughout a spherical of “Jingle Bells.”

For me, rewards-chasing is a pastime properly price my effort and time. Not solely is it enjoyable — who would not love a very good bank card spreadsheet? — nevertheless it’s additionally been fairly rewarding (pun supposed). During the last ten years, I estimate I’ve loved shut to 5 figures in free airfare and resort stays, in addition to a number of assertion credit and upgrades.

However not each redemption has been a headline-worthy rating. I’ve made my fair proportion of low-value errors and subpar redemptions. The truth is, one of many greatest errors I made within the early days of touring on factors really wound up costing me a whopping $1,500 in charges.

The dreaded BA surcharge

One of many first — and largest — rewards journeys I ever deliberate was a weeks-long journey to the UK for myself and two members of the family. Because of factors and miles, we deliberate to go all-out, together with flying enterprise class each methods.

As a result of our native airport had restricted airways, I selected American Airways for our flights. For UK routes, this meant flying throughout the pond on British Airways (they’re a part of the identical airline alliance). Little did I do know on the time, this may come again to chew me later.

You see, there’s this enjoyable little quirk about BA flights between the U.S. and the UK: gasoline surcharges. Each BA award flight to the UK from a U.S. airport comes with these pretty little carrier-imposed charges on high of the factors it’s essential redeem. The precise cost varies by flight and sophistication; for our enterprise class flights on the time, it was $500 a pop — a method.

Sadly, I did not understand this explicit drawback till I might already amassed a great deal of miles in my American Airways account — miles that I could not switch wherever else. To maintain my plans on observe, I ended up forking over the charges to the tune of about $1,500 to get the three of us to the UK. (Getting again had its personal points, however that is one other story.)

In hindsight, I might have been much better served going just a little bit out of my approach to save that further $1,500 (properly, most of it). You see, we might have flown into close by Dublin, Eire for a similar quantity of miles and zero surcharges. Then, our UK vacation spot would have been simply an hour — and $150 — away.

We might have even turned this obvious inconvenience right into a perk. By including a pair days onto our journey, we might have finished just a little sight-seeing in Dublin — or wherever else in Europe that caught our fancy — earlier than persevering with on to our unique vacation spot. I even had spare factors sitting round that would have doubtlessly paid for the additional lodging required.

Plan twice, switch as soon as

Past the lesson to keep away from British Airways for UK award journey, maybe a very powerful factor I realized from this entire debacle was to stay with transferable journey rewards currencies — and to solely switch them on the final minute.

If I might had a large stash of Amex Membership Rewards factors, as an illustration, I might have transferred them to any variety of different airways to work across the gasoline surcharge problem. As a substitute, I used to be so centered on incomes American Airways miles that I wound up with few choices for that leg of our journey.

Moreover, it is a good suggestion to maintain your factors in place till you are completely sure of your plans and also you’re on the verge of constructing a reserving. Most transferable factors may be transferred nearly immediately. At most, some might take 48 to 72 hours to undergo — however that is uncommon.

Storing your factors of their most versatile type for so long as attainable retains your choices open in case one thing comes up. And, as any rewards traveler quickly learns, one thing all the time comes up.

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