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A Holiday Hidden Stash of Reward Points

holiday travel with points

With all the gloom and craziness going on in the world right now, I believe it helps to focus on the positive. For a Friday treat, I though I would share a story about my Mom’s hidden stash of reward points.

As you may recall, my Dad retired recently and is still figuring out his place in a world without 12 hour work days. My Mom has been retired for some time and enjoys small town life. I guess you could say they never exactly caught the travel bug.

You Can Take a Vacation When I’m Dead

In fact, aside from a couple of road trip vacations when we were kids and two or three trips to visit us, my parents have never traveled. Their last trip to Colorado was over five years ago. Health problems have cropped up since then. Their chances of making it West of the Mississippi again seemed pretty unlikely.

Instead, we try to visit them. Jim and I have spent the holidays with my family in Kentucky for 15 out of the past 16 years. The one year we missed was right after getting married in 2002. We chose to take a honeymoon to Jamaica instead of visiting the South. Well, we heard about it for the next decade with my Mom going as far as to say that we could have plenty of time to vacation after she was dead!

Being Picky About Holiday Flights Will Cost You

Needless to say, we haven’t missed a holiday season since. Until this year. The timing just didn’t work out for us to make it back during the two weeks Jim and our daughter have off from school. I promised to come for spring break but then found that those dates aren’t going to work either. Boy, was I feeling guilty!

I though I’d try a last ditch effort to save everyone’s sanity by asking my parent here for Christmas. With terror attacks and missing planes in the news over the past few years, I knew inviting them to fly would probably be an effort in futility. Imagine my surprise when my parents surprised us and agreed to come.

We were thrilled until realizing we have a little over a month to book airline tickets during the most expensive time of the year. Added to that, their flights can’t be too early because it’s a two hour drive to the airport from their house.

Plus, they need at least two layover hours to navigate DFW for their connection. My Mom is terrified of missing a flight. Even though seasoned travelers know this is not a big deal, I want her to feel as comfortable as possible.  A few online searches revealed we would be shelling out almost $1,000 a ticket to get them from Nashville to Durango on their desired time frame.

Mom’s Hidden Stash

I was all ready to go ahead with the booking when my Mom mentioned that she had some points saved up. I didn’t even know that she knew what a point was. After checking her credit card information, I was shocked to see that she had over 150,000 cash back points that are worth even more if used for travel!

Mom is not a travel hacker. She simply uses her one credit card for almost all expenses and pays the balance every month. I think she got the credit card originally because so many places stopped taking checks. Regardless, she has racked up a ton of points and apparently has been saving them since 2006 for just the right occasion!

We used all of her points plus $190 to purchase airline tickets for the week of Christmas. No, it’s not a lie flat business class seat around the world or a Presidential suite at the Ritz, but sometimes the best point redemptions are the ones that get you where you want to be when you want to be there.

We have so many things to be thankful for this holiday season: our health, family, friends, and my Mom’s hidden stash of reward points!

What is the craziest thing your parents have ever had hidden away? Are you flying for the holidays?

 

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

9 comments

  1. That’s awesome Kim! My Mom & Stepdad are similar – they’re 2 hours from the nearest airport and need the extra layover time so it’s usually a challenge to get them out here. Rewards points have come in handy for them a couple of times, which is always nice. We’re not planning on flying anywhere for the holidays this year, though still haven’t decided if we’re going to go somewhere local or not for Christmas. We’ll be deciding that this weekend – nothing like waiting til the last minute. 😉

  2. I had a similar situation with my mom where she signed up for a Southwest credit card, just to get a credit card and didn’t even realize she was earning crazy points. Lucky for me, she gave them to me and my son so we could visit my sister and baby nephew in Florida last winter.

  3. Oh my goodness that’s a lot of miles! Good for her! My Dad has some baseball cards from when he was young that he has stashed away. I doubt I will ever sell them but my children or grandchildren may be interested 50 years down the road.

  4. You are so lucky because of your Mom’s saved points. And, it’s actually a perfect time. Now, what you’d have to do is to prepare for it. Have fun, Kim.

  5. That is so cute! She needs to start travel hacking if she is spending enough to rack up 150K of anything!

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