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The pandemic flip-flopped all of my wedding plans. I went from sending out save-the-dates for a June 2020 bachelorette party, an August 2020 bridal shower, and an October 2020 wedding, to contacting everyone letting them know everything would be put on pause. Ultimately, my partner and I decided to cancel everything and elope last month instead.
After emailing my group of friends to tell them that I felt it would be best to postpone, yet again, a summer 2021 bachelorette party (mostly because it’s a headache to plan group travel right now) I decided to not let my calendar stay empty. Instead of going to Las Vegas or New Orleans with my friends, I’d plan a solo summer vacation for myself.
I figured it was a good time to cash in some of the credit card rewards I’ve been racking up over the last year on my Capital One Spark Miles for Business card to help pay for this vacation. So I decided on taking a solo summer vacation to Miami.
Here’s how I’m paying for most of it with my own credit card rewards.
$95, waived the first year
20.99% variable APR
50,000 miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months
Upgrading my travel and accommodations
Since this is a solo trip and it’s technically a replacement for what would have been my bachelorette party, I wanted to treat myself as much as I could, based on what I could afford. I decided that the top two things I wanted were to stay in a nice hotel and to fly in an upgraded seat (extra legroom and a seat in front of the plane).
I decided that I’d spend most of my Capital One miles making this happen, so I went to the Capital One credit card rewards portal and searched for hotels. I wanted to stay at either a four or five-star hotel for my two-night vacation and budgeted 50,000 miles.
I picked a mid-priced hotel that had excellent reviews and offered a $100 discount through the Capital One portal. It cost 30,576 miles (and included the hotel taxes and fees, so there wouldn’t be anything to pay out of pocket). If I’d paid cash, it would have come out to around $337. I decided I would use the miles for the stay and pay any expenses I accumulated at the hotel with cash (food, drinks, etc.).
I also used miles to cover my airfare. I researched flights in the portal and found a ticket for 15,678 miles (for a $157 flight). I figured I could use miles to pay for the flight and pay the $60 for an upgraded seat in cash.
Spend quality time inside your credit card’s travel portal to see what special offers are available now. You might snag even better hotels or flights than you would have found searching elsewhere and can cover these purchases with your credit card rewards.
Paying for my gear
I picked a summer destination that’s known for its hot days and constant sunshine, which meant I’d have to stock up on gear before I got there.
I knew I’d need sunscreen, a hat, a new bathing suit, and more. Because you can use miles from the Capital One Spark Miles for Business to pay for purchases on Amazon, I filled my cart up with about $75 worth of gear and used my miles to pay for these items. In total, I used 9,375 Capital One miles (worth 0.8 cents each when you redeem them at checkout with Amazon).
Check to see what retailers allow you to redeem your credit card rewards directly. Knowing that can come in handy when you’re buying essentials for a vacation or upcoming trip and want to cover those expenses with points.
Treating myself to gift cards
A fun way to really treat myself and have even more fun while on the trip is to have a selection of gift cards to use. That way, I won’t question whether a dinner or purchase will impact my budget.
I had 15,000 miles left that I wanted to spend on this trip and used them to purchase gift cards for local restaurants and stores in Miami. I did this by buying those gift cards directly through the Capital One rewards portal.
Think outside the box when planning a vacation using your credit card travel rewards. Likely, you can use your points for more than just a flight and hotel. Always double-check to see what your card offers and how you can use your points in a variety of ways.