Mayhem Tip: How I scored First Class Seats on the Cheap Thanks to Credit Cards
October 3, 2016
If you follow me on Instagram and Twitter (you should... if not go do that now and come back @MileageMayhem) you know that Mary and I took a trip to Beverly Hills this weekend, my sixth favorite city in the world.
We made the trip out in a 777-200 internationally configured airplane on American Airlines in first class, and back on a brand new A321s in economy.
So how much did this cost me out of pocket for two roundtrip tickets, with one way in first class?
$140 and 30,000 American miles.
Here's how I did it:
American Airlines was offering roundtrip fares from DFW-LAX for $120 for weekend travel, so I booked both of us flights. That brings our total to $240.
I purchased a $100 AA gift card using my American Express Premier Rewards Gold Credit Card that comes with a $100 airline fee credit that covers gift cards, so I got that gift card for free. That brings my out of pocket total down to $140. Additionally, the annual fee on the card of $195 is waived the first year, so I made $100 having the card.
When I saw that the plane was a 777-200 I really wanted to experience the first class seat, regardless of how old the plane was. I had a couple of options, as I could have either paid the difference or used miles to upgrade.
It would have been an extra $600 roughly to pay, or I could use 15,000 miles each and pay a $75 copay.
Because I didn't want to use cash at the time, I opted to redeem my miles for it. The value of my redemption was about 2 cents per mile, which isn't bad for an AA redemption for a cabin I really wanted to try.
So, my out of pocket went from $140 to $140 + $75 + $75 = $290 + 15,000 miles (x2) which brings us to:
$290 + 30,000 miles.
But, I wasn't done reducing my expense, as my new Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa Infinite Card comes with its own airline fee credit, which will wipe out my $150 copay total. So, I was back down to:
$140 + 30,000 miles.
Generally, a first class one-way ticket would cost 25,000 at the "sAAver" level. That means redeeming miles the way I did saved me about 20,000 miles (instead of redeeming two mileage seats @ 25,000 miles each which would have been 50,000 miles total).
To recap, my total out of pocket expense was $140 and 30,000 miles for two roundtrip, 3 hours flights, with one of those legs in international first class!
This shows how credit cards can save you money, as they reduced my expense by $250.
There are so many opportunities like this out there. You need to be prepared to take advantage when the opportunity presents itself by having the right credit cards in your wallet and using them to their full value!
My reviews of the plane and hotel will be coming soon. Plenty of pictures!