This January we are taking my daughter, Kaitlyn, on her first trip to Walt Disney World. YAYYYYYY!!!!!!! It’s a really big deal for our family. We live in Arizona, so we will literally be crossing the continent to get to Florida. Luckily, as I mentioned in my last post, we have credit card points that have helped offset some of the cost for this Walt Disney World Trip. Who can argue with a free flights to Orlando?
How do Credit Cards connect with Airline Rewards Programs?
First, I think we should explain a little bit about how credit card rewards programs actually work. Most banks have two types of rewards programs.
The first will earn you the banks rewards points. For example, American Express has the Membership Rewards program. These include cards such as the Amex Every Day Preferred, the Amex Gold and Platinum Charge cards. All points earned become part of the Membership Rewards points program.
The second type of credit card earns you points with a partnered company. Such as the SPG Amex, which gets you Starwood Preferred Guest points, or the Citibank American Airline Executive Credit Card which earns you American Airlines AAdvantage points.
Credit card reward programs, such as the Amex Membership Rewards, allows you to use the points in multiple ways, directly through the rewards program. Purchasing gift cards, small accessories, and even booking travel directly is possible. These redemption’s are normally not the best value per point.
Transfer partners are affiliates that allow you to transfer points to their rewards program. This will normally provide you with the best redemption rate. An example of the transfer partner we work with the most often is British Airways. Amex Membership rewards are transferable to British Airways Avios. We can in turn use Avios to book American Airlines flights.
You read that correctly, Amex is an affiliate of British Airways. British Airways is also partnered with American Airlines. Its through these two sets of partnerships that we can redeem American Airlines flights. It may seem confusing but using the websites listed below will outline which partnerships are available.
Websites for Affiliate Information:
- The Points Guy
- Million Mile Secrets
Which Credit Card Is Best For Free Flights to Orlando?
We recommend checking out your local airport and seeing which airlines have hubs there. Follow up with seeing what credit cards those airlines rewards programs are affiliated with. This will be the quickest way for you to earn airline rewards points.
Now we are at the really critical part of this article. How do you earn free flights to Orlando right now? We’ve provided a list of transfer partners and current credit card offers to help you on this journey. As we are located in the Phoenix metro area we will be using that as an example for the amount of flights that can be redeemed. If you live closer to Orlando you can expect to earn the same amount of flights or more.
Chase Credit Cards:
Chase Travel Partners: British Airways, Air France, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, Aer Lingus and Iberia
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Card – Don’t let the Business part of the name throw you off. You don’t actually have to run a business to get this credit card. Having a blog or selling items online counts. Honestly, applying for this card can be a process but the pay offs are huge. 80,000 points can be earned by hitting the minimum spend. That’s eight one way tickets from Phoenix (6 from San Francisco) to Orlando. The Chase Ink Business Preferred card earns 3x travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, and phone services. If you are running a business you can earn 3x on advertising with social media sites and search engines.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – It’s possible to earn 50,000 points right off the bat with this credit card. 2x points are available on dining and travel. The travel portion includes hotels and all modes of transportation and parking. Dining is everything from fast food to fine dinning.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – A sign up bonus of 50,000 points is available. One thing to be aware of with this card is the high annual fee at $450. Yearly you’ll receive a $300 dollar travel credit, which helps offset the fee. This card earns points at a quicker pace with 3x points on travel and dining.
Amex Transfer partners: British Airways, Iberia, Cathay Pacific, Air Canada Aeroplan, All Nippon Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Delta, Air France, KLM Flying Blue, Alitalia, Aeromexico, El Al, Emirates, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic
- Amex EveryDay Preferred – This is the credit card we use for the majority of our purchases. Right now the signing bonus is 20,000 points and 12 months 0% interest. The sign up offer doesn’t seem that great compared to the Chase credit cards but it is enough for a round trip flight from Phoenix to Orlando. If you play your cards right this credit card will get you to Orlando many, many, times in the future.
- Amex Platinum – This card is great if you are just starting out in the points game and know that you, initially, will still be buying flights. You receive 5x points on all airfare. The initial sign up offer is 60,000 points which isn’t too shabby either. That’s 6 one way flights to Orlando from Phoenix.
Airline Credit Cards
- British Airways Visa Signature – 75,000 point bonus offer. This card has limited use. It’s good for it’s sign up offer but not much else after that. After the first year we would recommend canceling this card. These points are worth 7 one way Flights to Orlando for us.
- United MileagePlus Explorer Card – 40,000 bonus points, worth 3 one way flights to Orlando from anywhere in the continental United States.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards – 50,000 bonus points . Southwest rewards are tied directly to the cash value of the flight. Depending on where in the country you live you should be able to redeem two to four round trip flights.
How do we earn points so quickly? Why we recommend the Amex Every Day Preferred Card.
This is our every day credit card. Without this card we wouldn’t be able to redeem as many free flights to Orlando. The card earns 3x points on grocery stores and 2x points at gas stations. In addition, after 30 purchases you get a 50% bonus for that bill period. You may be thinking that 30 swipes is a lot in a month but honestly it’s not hard to do. Especially if you don’t use cash for anything and this is your primary credit card.
Here’s a very basic example of how to earn points on this card. Let’s say you go to the grocery store once a week and spend $100 dollars. Since its 3x points at grocery stores you earn 300 points a week. There are four weeks in a month so 300 x 4 gets you 1200 points minimum every month. If you want to get your 30 swipes for the month you need 26 more swipes. Easy enough, you buy a $1 can of soda every day for lunch from the gas station. At 2 point per dollar at gas stations that’s 52 points. So far you have earned 1252 points BUT you also get your 50% bonus because you were able to swipe your card 30 times. Now you have 1878 points for the month.
How We Redeem Our Points For Flights to Orlando:
Honestly, we haven’t paid for a flight in well over three years. This is because of how quickly we can earn Amex points. Another key component is being flexible on our travel dates.
Again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the credit cards that are partnered with airlines that have hubs at your local airport. We live in the Phoenix Metro Area. For us it makes the most sense to have an American Express credit card. Amex has a partnership with British Airways. In turn, British Airways Avios can be used to book American Airline flights.
One of the perks of using Avios is that occasionally they have a 40%-50% bonus sale with Amex membership rewards. This means that we can use half the points we normally would to book a flight. A flight that is normally 10,000 points will become available for 5,000 or 6,000. See what I mean about how you can earn useful points really quickly?
This is what meant when I said be flexible about travel dates. When these sales become available we go for it. Really, if we were kicking around the idea of going on vacation somewhere and we realize we can do it on the cheaper side, we make it work. Rewards flights are normally flights that the airline expects to have a hard time filling. This means that they are often at odd times or on days people usually don’t want to travel on. For instance I cannot get a morning flight to Orlando. I have to leave Phoenix late, usually around 4 and waste a whole vacation day traveling. It bums me out a little but ya know what? Paying for my flight would have bummed me out a lot more.
Thanks for sticking through to the end and Happy Travels!! Have fun flying for Free! It really is addicting.
Stay tuned for posts coming soon exploring using credit card points to pay for hotels and leveraging credit card perks to make traveling easier and more enjoyable.
If you haven’t, make sure to read our last post on using credit cards rewards at Disney World for things like accommodations and room charges.