Home Points & Miles The Pros & Cons Of Traveling On Points & Miles As A Couple

The Pros & Cons Of Traveling On Points & Miles As A Couple

by joeheg

Sharon and I have been traveling with miles and points for almost fifteen years. Over the years, Sharon has had to learn that I’ll randomly bring up some plans for a trip or credit card (Note from Sharon: #rolleyes). Meanwhile, I’ve had to learn that she really doesn’t care about the details but, given limited guidelines, will do her part to help us earn extra points and miles. Nothing about that has changed.

I’ve learned through experience that traveling as a couple brings a certain number of challenges to booking award tickets. Playing this game as a couple also has several advantages. I love the analogy that Sharon and I are now playing with points and miles in Two-Player mode. For those who are familiar with video games know, this brings a whole number of advantages but also presents a set of new challenges.

I wouldn’t trade anything for the experiences we’ve had on our travels but I feel it’s necessary for anyone who’s going to try to take on this responsibility to understand the thankless number of hours you’re going to spend making trips work for the two of you.

CON

I often read articles about people booking an award seat on Lufthansa or Singapore in first class last minute. It’s easy to find that space if you’re looking for just one person. When you need to find two tickets, good luck. I’ve put many of those “dream” tickets out of my mind and I focus on things that are possible.

PRO

It’s always possible to find those once-a-lifetime tickets for two, it’s happened to me… TWICE, but I’m not holding my breath. I was told that finding two first-class tickets to Japan on ANA would happen when H*LL froze over but here are pictures of us in our first true lie-flat seats back in 2009.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OMG. That MacBook was HUGE!!!!

So it pays to shoot for the moon – even if you miss, you’ll be among the stars and able to get way more than you would have otherwise.

CON

However many thousands of miles that flight cost in 2009 (I want to say 120,000 miles plus $582 in taxes?), cost double that for the two of us. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Well, I forgot a little because I had them open a bottle of Shōchū and they insisted on refilling my glass for the whole flight.

PRO

If you need to spend twice as many miles for trips, you’re also able to rack up miles twice as fast from credit card sign up bonuses. Since we both have our own businesses, we’re able to double-dip on all the good personal and business card offers.

CON

Keeping track of all of those credit card accounts takes time. I’ve been known to miss a payment or two (only by a day or two but it still triggers a late fee). Since Sharon will only call a bank if she has to, I need to make sure it’s worth it to plead about waiving the fee. It has to be worth what we’re going to get out of the call and I also need to decide if it’s worth it for our marriage. (Note from Sharon: True story! Happy wife, happy life! LOLOL!)

PRO

Your traveling partner occasionally appreciates it when you’re able to pull off that travel unicorn. She might have been able to get us tickets to see Harry Potter in London a few months after it opened, but I was able to get a room for the trip using award nights. While it costs twice as much to book flights, hotels are the same price if you’re looking for one or two people, you’re also able to leverage hotel points from both people to stay in some amazing places.

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CON

When your travel partner also manages to get tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in New York over Thanksgiving weekend, she expects that you’ll be able to find flights and hotels using points. If you were wondering, I did, by using a combination of British Airways Avios, Delta SkyMiles and Marriott Rewards points 🙂 Here’s how I did it. 

PRO

By having two people playing, we’re able to leverage a combination of cards and programs. It’s not that bad. Sharon has the Citi Prestige that gets us the fourth night free benefit on paid hotel stays. She also has the Marriott Business card which gives her a free night each year. I have the Sapphire Reserve from Chase to earn 3x points on all travel expenses and to get the 1.5 cents per point value on redemptions through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Mall. I’m also an authorized user on her Sapphire Preferred card that allows us an easy way to transfer points between Ultimate Rewards Accounts.

CON

So, I take it back. It is that bad. I’ve been doing this for years and our account sign-ups and links are layered on top of one another. If I was starting over, I’d do it differently but it’s too late to go back now.

That’s just a glimpse of the trials and tribulations booking miles and points as a couple. From the one doing most of the planning, it’s totally been worth it.  Like the first international award we booked to visit Japan:

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I just hope Sharon remembers that the next time I ask her to call a bank to get a retention offer on a credit card (Note from Sharon: UUUUGGGGHHHH!!!!).

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

5 comments

Kelly MacKay March 9, 2018 - 10:47 am

I flew only once in business class to Nairobi and it was like a dream come true

Reply
Nathan April 28, 2019 - 6:23 pm

Sweet! Thank you for sharing your highs and lows. I understand because I have 2 kids too , so double it up. Yippy Kai Yay!

Reply
carolyn munn November 11, 2021 - 12:11 pm

I loved reading this story of this couple and their “will do anything for miles” tale. Good to know I’m not the only one 🙂

Reply
Jim November 11, 2021 - 3:03 pm

I’m curious, what you would do over if you had to start all over?

Reply
joeheg November 12, 2021 - 10:20 am

Change the order that we applied for some cards and who applied for which one. Also would have lined up our free nights better to make it easier to use them for longer stays.

Reply

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