Home > Personal Finance > The 5 Coolest Things I’ve Done With Credit Card Rewards

Comments 0 Comments

It is no secret that I love credit card rewards. I carry an extensive portfolio of cards, and I know every trick in the book when it comes to earning the most rewards points and miles possible.

At the same time, I am not one of the young, single, travel bloggers you see gallivanting around the world, appearing at a different exotic destination each week. With a wife and two daughters keeping me busy at home, we need to carefully use our precious vacation time, which puts even more pressure on us to make the most of our credit card rewards. So ultimately, I might have do some even crazier things to use my credit card rewards than some of my fellow travel enthusiasts with too much time on their hands.

Here are the five most amazing things that my family and I have done with credit card rewards.

1. My Family’s First Trip in Business Class

Before we discovered credit card rewards, we were suffering in economy class just like everyone else. That’s why our memories of our first trip in business class are so special. My wife and I boarded Lufthansa’s non-stop flight from Denver to Frankfurt with our 7-month-old daughter, and we were absolutely giddy. We did the research and expected a big seat and a nice meal, but we were surprised at how the flight attendants treated us.

We were used to airline staff that just issued orders to stow our luggage, put away our electronics and raise our seat backs, but the flight attendants in business class addressed us like guests in a fine restaurant. We were offered second helpings of drinks, appetizers, and desserts before no fewer than three people came to hang a bassinet on the bulkhead and outfit it with fresh linen for our baby. As we enjoyed the service, we realized that we were probably the only passengers in business class that took the bus to the airport!

2. Flying International First Class With My 6-Year-Old

On our most recent trip overseas, I was able to change our plans at the last minute so that my now-6-year-old daughter and I could fly across the Atlantic in Lufthansa’s international first class, which is a notch above business class. We stayed overnight in Frankfurt so we could wake up early and visit their famous first-class terminal. This is not a lounge, but a separate building at the airport dedicated to checking in first-class passengers and pampering them.

After enjoying all the free food and drinks there, we were escorted to a waiting Mercedes-Benz that drove us past the regular passenger terminal and directly to our aircraft. If business class was like dining in a fine restaurant, then flying in international first class was like being a celebrity. On board, my daughter, myself, and one other passenger were alone in the first class cabin that seats eight. Two flight attendants and a chef were dedicated to serving us during the flight, with no shortage of caviar and champagne for me. I received an amenity kit including slippers and pajamas, while my daughter received toys and games in a box shaped like a pilot’s flight bag. It was a truly memorable experience for both of us.

3. Adventures in Uganda

My father, who is also an avid collector of frequent flier miles, once invited me to join him on a trip to Uganda. We used up a considerable amount of our credit card rewards to fly there in business class via Europe, and it was a 24-hour journey each way. Our purpose was to donate bicycles and to drill a clean water well in order to help some villagers he had met on his last trip there, in conjunction with the Wheels and Wells for Africa nonprofit that he started.

As we arrived at the village where we were having a well drilled, we were informed that we were the first people from outside of Africa to ever visit, and a special ceremony had been planned in our honor. For three hours, villagers sang, danced and offered us gifts. Later in the trip, we hiked up the foothills of the Virunga Mountains to see Africa’s famous mountain gorillas.

4. A Stay at the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

When our daughters were 5 years old and 5 months old, we flew to Salta, Argentina, to spend time with my cousins who had moved there, using credit card rewards for the flights. On the way home, we decided to spend a few nights in Buenos Aires, and booked a standard suite at the Park Hyatt Duhau using Hyatt Gold Passport points we had earned with our credit cards. It is a spectacular property in the heart of the city, and the staff there is truly dedicated to the comfort of their guests. When we were asked repeatedly how we were enjoying our stay, we finally hesitated to mention some strange plumbing noises that we had heard during the night. The staff appeared deeply concerned, and after a few moments, we were handed the keys to a new room on a different floor. It turned out to be their presidential suite, equipped with multiple bedrooms, fireplaces, and surrounded by 4-inch-thick bullet-proof glass!

5. A Day in Austin

Family travel is fun, but parents also need some time for themselves as a couple. That is why my wife and I recently redeemed plenty of points and miles to jet off to Austin, Texas, for just one night without our children. We went to see a concert, enjoy some barbecue and stay at the historic Driskill Hotel in the heart of downtown. But really, we went just because we could.

More on Credit Cards:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team