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- Using credit card rewards, our family took a trip to Florida for a fraction of what it would have cost.
- We used Delta miles and Citi ThankYou points to cover our airfare and rental card expenses.
- Mixing and matching rewards programs made it easy to secure tickets together on the same plane.
- Read Insider’s guide to the best travel rewards credit cards.
Although 2020 didn’t prevent us completely from traveling, it did put a damper on our plans, as it did for many. Our family took a trip to Hawaii in early March before the pandemic took off and then went to Salt Lake City in October to visit friends for a long weekend.
We are very grateful for the travel we did manage, but bummed about trips that were canceled or postponed. My husband and I had a trip for his work to Cabo planned and a five-year anniversary trip we wanted to take, but both of those trips were nixed.
Now that 2021 is in full swing we have started remaking travel plans and have been taking full advantage of the credit card travel points we had unused from 2020.
How we used Delta miles and Citi points for a family trip
I got my first Citi credit card, the Citi Premier® Card, last year. At the time, it had a different welcome bonus, but right now it currently offers 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. I hadn’t used Citi’s travel platform before but was excited to check it out and use it to book a trip for our family.
At the end of 2020, my husband and I decided we wanted to take our girls and my mother to Florida to escape the cold Minnesota winter. At first, we considered going in December, but with the pandemic still in full swing, we decided to wait. A month and a half later, after two weeks of below-zero temperatures in Minnesota, we were ready to book.
We decided a few weeks before leaving to purchase flights to Fort Lauderdale by using both Citi ThankYou points and my husband’s Delta SkyMiles.
Mixing and matching rewards saved us nearly $1,100
To book flights for my mom and myself, I redeemed about 45,000 Citi ThankYou points for Delta flights through the Citi Travel Portal. My husband and I are Delta SkyMiles members and we each have a Delta SkyMiles credit card, giving us a free checked bag on Delta flights — even if we don’t use the card to pay for the ticket. The free checked bag is also valid for up to eight companions on the same reservation, so we tend to fly Delta as much as we can.
We also knew Delta was still blocking the middle seat. This is nice not only for COVID-19 precautions but also because our youngest is under the age of 2 and can still fly free on my lap. With the middle seat open she was able to sit in her own seat free of charge the entire trip.
Between my Citi ThankYou points and my husband’s Delta miles, we were able to get all four Delta Main Cabin (economy) tickets nearly free. My husband has the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and had plenty of Delta miles banked up, so he booked his and my daughter’s ticket using 41,000 miles (plus about $23 in taxes).
Although trying to book the same trip on two different platforms can be a bit of a headache, it is certainly doable and worth it if you’re using points. For my and my mom’s ticket I had to log in to my Citi ThankYou account by phone, and we signed into my husband’s computer to book his and our oldest’s tickets on Delta’s website at the same time. This way we were able to match up the flight numbers and choose seats all in the same row.
We were able to search for the days we wanted to fly to Fort Lauderdale on the Delta site and chose Delta as our preferred airline through the Citi ThankYou platform. The flights we purchased were roughly $268 per person, so by using points and miles we saved around $1,072 total on flights.
After booking the flights I still had Citi ThankYou points to use, so we decided to apply them toward a car rental. We knew we would need a larger vehicle to fit the five of us, including two car seats, and were able to secure a Chevy Equinox for roughly 31,000 Citi ThankYou points. This would have cost us easily over $300 out of pocket!
With the airfare and car rental covered, we only had to book accommodations, which we did through Airbnb. We were able to find a two-bedroom condo with a heated pool within walking distance to the beach, restaurants, and a coffee shop. Using credit card rewards, both through Citi ThankYou and Delta SkyMiles, allowed us to take a family vacation for a fraction of the price we would have paid without these perks.
I was hesitant originally to open a Citi credit card to earn flexible points because I wasn’t familiar with their platform and didn’t know how complicated it would be to redeem the rewards. I’m very glad I decided to go for it as it allowed our family to take a lovely five-night, six-day vacation in southeastern Florida that was still within our budget.
Katie Oelker is a financial coach, personal finance writer, and podcaster. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, practicing yoga, and planning her family’s next adventure.