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If I win this (insert any TV show competition) I am going on that once in a lifetime vacation…

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


if i win going on a vacation

My wife and I like cooking shows and my TiVo gets a workout on the “Food Network” each week. Often on shows like “Chopped” you see the chef contestants mention that if they win the $10,000 prize they will:

Take that once in a lifetime trip
Visit some culinary spot to learn
Go away for a much needed vacation

Or some other event with family or friends that they have never been able to do because they did not have $10,000 to spend on some trip. Then, as is always the case, most of the contestants do not win. They lament, guess it will be a few more years before we can do (whatever). Sigh.

At this point in the show I always, verbally or in my head, YELL at the TV – frequent flyer points – hello! I agree $10,000 is just a huge amount of money to spend on a trip. Then again, if you add air, hotel, car and other transportation as well as meals and other costs you can quickly spend that much on two people for a nice trip. But what if it could cost you 10-30% of that price. Would it still be out of reach? Let me show you some examples

I go to Sweden to visit family many times a year. It is a long trip so I like to fly in business class. Those tickets could cost $3,000 to 5,000 each. I would never pay that but even in coach you are talking $1,000 to $1,500 each from the South Bend area. That, for two, is not cheap. But if I can only pay a few hundred bucks all-in plus points, that makes it work.

Next consider Grand Cayman. Love that place. Think Hawaii but warmer clearer water for diving and folks driving on the wrong side of the road 🙂 . Thanks to burning a bunch of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I always fly free and even one year used Hawaiian points to fly on Delta there.

Same goes for my annual trip out to the unquestionably “Greatest Snow on Earth”, that is, the Wasatch Front in Salt Lake, Utah. Truly, if you love to play in the snow you need to come visit this place. The people are great and the beer is amazing, oh, and the ski / snowboard powder dump days are legendary. And, you can fly free on points, stay free on points and get decent discounts on lift passes including 50% off the first day with your boarding pass from the day before (when you register). The point is, points makes this work.

Bottom line, as I always tell folks when they have never ever thought about points vacations, it is NOT FREE but think 10-30% of retail. Sometimes it takes a combination of different points for hotels and air but if that is what it takes (think current SPG card promo ENDING SOON) it is worth it to save a ton on travel. – Rene

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

5 Comments

  1. I think those of us who are into points and miles can simply retire that “Once in a lifetime” phrase. If I enjoy a place, I can always go back again. I told a friend about an upcoming trip to Turkey (a couple of years ago) and the response was, “Wow, that’s a once in a lifetime trip.” I didn’t quite have the heart at the moment to say, “Yes, I’m looking forward to it, but also to the trips I’ve already booked to Australia and South America for later in the year.” As we’ve all experienced, most people just don’t get it.

  2. I’m leaving Tuesday on my first class around the world trip using points which I booked after reading your post last December that the offering was being discontinued. I fly Atlanta to Soeul on the Korean air 380. Can’t wait! Thank you for your encouragement. I used Adam to book it btw!

  3. Like you, Rene, I love collecting points for “free” travel, but as a former chef, I think your frustration stems from a complete lack of understanding the life and situation of most chefs and cooks.

    When a chef says they’re going to take the $10k and use it for a trip, what they really mean is they’re going to negotiate with their boss, manager or restaurant owner to try to get a couple weeks off, while reassuring them that the sous chef won’t completely screw everything up and drive away all their business. If they are the sous chef or a line cook, they’re negotiating just to have a job when they come back from the trip.

    Financially the breakdown is going to be: $2k to cover the time they’re gone because most cooks don’t get paid vacations. $3-4k for the actual trip. $4-5k to save or pay off debts (of which they’ve had missed and late payments which prevent them from getting the really good credit cards with bonuses).

    Most cooks are working near (or over) 12 hour days, 5-6 days per week on hourly wages with no benefits and no PTO. Even if they could get a card with a good bonus, it’s not worthwhile to spend your one day off doing MS in hopes of a vacation that you may not get time off for.

    • @Jyee – I think you miss my point, that is, the value of points for ANYONE who is paying retail for a vacation.

  4. Oh, I understand your point. Just noting that accumulating points is particularly hard for some professions, especially most cooks.

    Lots of us consider MS and bonuses a game (and one that we win), but if we’re honest, it’s also a bit of work – work that many people don’t have the means to work at or don’t have the opportunities to enjoy the benefits of.

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