Turn your points into airline miles and get cheap five-star hotels with these top tips – The Sun

WANT a luxury trip? Savvy travelers book fancy flights and hotels through points programs, deals, and discount sites.

Today I show you how and talk to an expert who travels the world for free.

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Maldives holidays don’t have to cost a fortune, earn credit card points and save on hotelsCredit: Getty – Contributor

CHOOSE THE RIGHT CARD

The best way to collect airline miles, in addition to paying for flights, is through daily spending with a specialty credit card.

The Amex Preferred Rewards Gold card allows you to collect points for various flight programs including British Airways and Virgin.

Get 10,000 bonus points for spending £3,000 in the first three months – enough for a trip back to Paris with BA. It’s free for a year, then £140 a year.

The BA Amex card is free and gives 5,000 Avios points when you spend £1,000 in the first three months, plus 1 point for every £1 spent.

The Virgin Atlantic Reward Card has no annual fee and a bonus of 5,000 miles upon sign up.

With BA and Virgin cards, you get two-for-one flight vouchers after spending more than a threshold. These “companion vouchers” can be used when redeeming miles.

Both airline cards have annual fee options that allow you to earn miles faster and earn companion vouchers with less expense. MoneySavingExpert and The Points Guy UK have helpful advice on choosing.

    Accumulate points as you spend and get rewarded at the end

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Accumulate points as you spend and get rewarded at the endCredit: Alamy

LEARN THE TRICKS

Spend with your card whenever you can, but remember that you should pay off your balance every month and never buy things just to earn airline miles.

There are other ways to increase your points. Refer-a-friend credit card programs are lucrative. With BA’s Amex Card, you can earn up to 90,000 points a year by referring friends, enough for a return flight to Sydney.

When shopping online, earn bonus points through the BA eStore, Virgin’s Shops Away or Topcashback, which offers Avios points with select retailers like John Lewis.

Also look for promotions. You can get up to 8,400 Avios points by subscribing to The Economist.

    Treat yourself to a relaxing getaway in the Maldives

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Treat yourself to a relaxing getaway in the MaldivesCredit: Getty – Contributor

CHOOSE YOUR FLIGHTS

Aim to earn at least 100,000 Avios or Virgin Atlantic points for a decent long-haul journey in a luxury seat. A business class return trip from London to New York at peak times costs approximately 120,000 Avios points plus tax.

You can also get a companion flight for a family member and friend if you’ve spent more than a certain amount on your card. With the BA Amex it is £20,000 for the no-fee card and £10,000 for the £195 annual fee version. Arrange flights before sorting accommodation as there is usually less availability.

You’ll get more value for your long-haul points because short flights to Europe are cheap anyway. Your miles can be used to pay for entire flights or an upgrade.

Even if you use them to pay for the whole trip, you still have to pay flight tax, which can be around £350 and more on a flight to New York.

Given a return there’s usually at least £3,000, that’s a big saving. Consider flying from a continental European airport like Brussels, Dublin or Amsterdam, where taxes are lower.

Search multiple departure points at the same time using Google Flights. Also try deal sites like Jack’s Flight Club, Secret Flying, or Airfarewatchdog for cheap flights when using cash instead of points.

    You will get more rewards for long-haul flights

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You will get more rewards for long-haul flightsCredit: Alamy

VIP LOUNGE

Most airports have lounges, and many include pay-as-you-go options.

Book in advance to take advantage of online discounts. If you travel regularly, it may be worth investing in a Priority Pass for unlimited lounge access. They cost £69 per year on prioritypass.com.

Some credit cards also offer lounge benefits, such as the Amex Platinum card which comes with a Priority Pass for the primary cardholder and additional cardholder. The Amex Preferredm Rewards Gold Card comes with two lounge passes each year.

    Invest in a Priority Pass for unlimited VIP lounge access

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Invest in a Priority Pass for unlimited VIP lounge accessCredit: PA: Press Association

FIVE STAR HOTEL

Some long-haul destinations have very cheap high-end hotels – so there’s no need to use loyalty points.

The Points Guy UK recommends the Park Hyatt Dubai which sells rooms for as little as £80 per night. You can combine these already low prices with a ten percent discount code for sites like hotels.com.

Sign up for a hotel loyalty program, like Marriott Rewards or Hilton Honors, and stick with your chosen brand to earn perks like free nights after a certain number of bookings.

Another option is to use the Hotwire site, which sells rooms at deep discounts for brands like Hilton and Radisson.

You only know the actual hotel once you have booked.

We’ve been around the world for air miles

KEEN Avios collector Leor Franks, his wife and two children are heading to Bali this summer, thanks to £10,000 worth of free flights.

Leor, 40, from Stanmore, north-west London, collects points all year round. He saved 350,000 points and two companion vouchers with BA.

This was enough for round-trip business class flights for his family in Kuala Lumpur, so he only had to pay for return flights to Bali.

Marketing director Leor and his family – his wife Tamara and children Mia, eight, and Max, five – spend all their money on the American Express Premium British Airways card which earns 1.5 Avios points per pound spent, a American Express Platinum payment card and a Tesco Clubcard, which allows cardholders to convert Tesco points into Avios.

The family earns bonus points through Topcashback or BA’s online store and friend referral programs on credit cards.

Rich kids soak up the sun on flash yachts and shop as they kick off summer vacation



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