Travel Tips

How I Booked 2 FREE Round-Trip Tickets to Paris

My mom and I are headed to France! She has a milestone birthday this year so I thought it’d be amazing to take her somewhere she’s never been. We are spending a few days in Paris and then heading to the French Riviera. Sounds amazing, right? We can’t wait.

When I first started researching for our trip, I planned to just buy our tickets outright. But then I thought why not use my hard-earned American Express credit card points? I became a card-carrying member of the American Express Platinum club almost a year ago, which by the way, I should have totally gotten sooner! I love it and all of its benefits but that’s a post for a different day.

After spending a minimum of $5,000 within three months, I received 60,000 points, which is equivalent to about $500 for future flights or hotel stays. I didn’t spend my initial 60,000 points right away because I wanted to use them for something special. I continued to accumulate points by using it as my every day card instead of my debit card. By the time I cashed out, I had over 120,000 points. And I couldn’t think of anything more special than treating my mom to a free trip to France! So how did I do it?

  1. Find a flight. I look for flights on several websites (Google Flights, Expedia, Skyscanner and others) before deciding to purchase a ticket. I saw on Google Flights that Delta had flights to Paris and from Nice during my desired travel dates. And Delta happens to be my preferred airline because I fly it most often (hello, status!).

  2. Always go to the airline’s website to book directly. I went to Delta’s website to see how much the flights were, both in points and dollars. I always go to directly to the airline’s website just to make sure I’m getting the best rate.

  3. Transfer Points. I saw that one round-trip economy class ticket to Paris was 66,000 points on Delta from BWI. I had about 75,000 points on Delta so it was only enough points for one ticket. But then I remembered that Delta and American Express are partners! I called AMEX and they were able to instantly transfer the remaining points I needed over to my Delta account. Since I was using points from both my Delta and AMEX accounts, I splurged for two Economy Comfort seats which were only about 20,000 more points. Score!
    *Note: You could receive more points if you booked your trip through American Express Travel, but I didn’t have enough AMEX points alone to book the flights I wanted directly through their site.

  4. Book the flights! It took about 3 minutes for my AMEX points to show up in my Delta account. Once they were there, I booked our tickets directly on Delta’s website and voila! We’re headed to Paris!

Delta still charges taxes and fees per ticket, so I paid about $120 for both tickets. But guess what? Those were paid too! One of the benefits of the AMEX Platinum is that you receive $200 per year to use for incidental fees on any airline of your choice. Because my AMEX is linked to my Delta account, I was immediately refunded the $120, making the tickets FREE.99!

I was on Cloud 9 that day not just because they were free, but because I was able to do something for my mother that I knew she would love and appreciate. I called her at work and she couldn’t believe it. This frees up more of our cash to dine at amazing restaurants, take great tours and stay at better hotels! It’s my mother’s first time to Europe so I want it to be amazing for her. Our trip is already off to an amazing start!

*This post is not sponsored by Delta or American Express, but it should be! Call me!
**Since they aren’t paying me, I didn’t include links throughout this post. But check out more benefits of the Platinum card
here.
***The fee for the AMEX Platinum is $550 per year. Please only apply for this card if it’s in your budget.

Why You Should Consider Getting CLEAR

If you follow me on social media (hint, hint), you know I'm Global Entry's biggest fan. It's the fastest way to re-enter the country and breeze your way through customs. It's seriously one of the best ideas Homeland Security's ever had. But what about saving time on the front end of your trip?

TSA Pre-check was all the rage some years ago. But since everyone has gotten it through their credit cards and Global Entry, lines for PreCheck can be as long as they are for regular security. That's where CLEAR comes in.

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I first signed up for CLEAR when I was flying to Atlanta last year and saw that the PreCheck line was around the corner. Patience has never been a virtue of mine and the rep for CLEAR just so happened to be standing there. She asked if I'd like to give it a try and I thought why the hell not. Sign up was simple and right there on the spot.

The rep told me that the cost was $179 for the year but I had two months to cancel. $179 sounded really steep to me in the moment but I made a mental note to cancel before the 30 day trial period was over. After the quick finger print scan and sign up with my information, the rep escorted me to the front of the TSA PreCheck line and BAM! I went through security quicker than ever before. With CLEAR, you're able to essentially bypass the entire security line, whether you have PreCheck or not. You don't even need ID! The kiosk uses your fingerprints or eye scan to determine your identity. It's awesome.

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I've used CLEAR every time I've gone to the airport since then and each time, it's truly refreshing to skip the line and silently one-up everyone still standing in line. The downside? It's $179 per year. I'm not gonna lie. My feelings were hurt when I saw my account debited for what seemed like an unnecessary purchase at the time. I wondered to myself if I'd really use it. I've used it every time I've gone to the airport since enrolling so it's a small price to pay for someone who travels often. I love skipping lines wherever possible and this just made boarding my flight that much easier. Since the price is a little high, I highly recommend CLEAR for frequent travelers. If you don't travel often, PreCheck may still be an okay, less costly option for you. 

You can also use CLEAR at stadiums and arenas. I've never seen it at a stadium but hey, they say it's there. So what do you think? Would you give CLEAR a try?