How my family scored 4 FREE Roundtrip Tickets to the Philippines

They say #itsmorefuninthephilippines. Well, I say, “It’s more fun when you travel for FREE to the Philippines!” I helped my and my brother, Jojit book this long overdue trip back to the mother land. Tickets around the holidays could range from $1500 to over $2000 per person. But I knew better not to do that to my family. We were able to score 4 FREE roundtrip tickets to Manila.

Early this year, my family planned on traveling back to the Philippines for the holidays. It’s a perfect time to go, kids are not in school, and work load tends to be slow at the end of the year and the beginning of the next. Well, as luck would have it, not all of us could go. By the word “all”, I meant that my side of the family couldn’t go due to scheduling conflict. Nancy had to work until Dec 26th. Our kids also return back to school on January 8th, meaning, that would’ve been just 1.5 weeks of going back to the Philippines. So no go for my side of the family this time. However, it’s a go for my Mom, my brother, Jojit, his wife, Susan, and daughter, Hailey.

For the longest time during this past year, we’ve talked about going back to the Philippines. But it was also quite ambitious. We talked about going back to the Philippines by using points, and if we could do so, we’d like to do it for less or for FREE. So we had to plan this strategically.chase-sapphire-preferredIt took awhile for them to jump on board in getting the right credit card. It wasn’t until 2015 when they finally decided to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred which gave them 50,000 bonus points. They began reaping those benefits when they all flew to Kauai for free in 2016 simply by using those points. I helped them plan their vacation, transferred their points to fly to Kauai.

After returning from Kauai, the next big goal was to get to the Philippines. For those in the know, flying to the Philippines during the holidays is no easy feat for someone’s wallet. You could easily be paying for tickets over $1,700-$2,100 per person during this high season. Here are a few examples of how much tickets cost around the holidays:

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But I knew better not to let my family do that. Imagine, if 4 of them were to pay that insane amount, they be spending close to $7,000 – $8,000 in airfare alone….and that’s flying economy. Nope. I couldn’t let that happen. sapphire_reserve_cardI encouraged them to apply for points-earning credit cards. Fortunately, they listened…..they all applied for separate cards with Chase, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. At the time of their application, they were able to take advantage of the limited time bonus offer of 100,000 points after meeting the minimum spend. They applied just in time before the bonus offer ended.

As mentioned before, there are a few ways one could get tickets to anywhere – simply, purchase online or with a travel agent, pay IN FULL with your credit card or cash. Or, in our case, because we are a family that earns points from our credit cards, we still had a couple of options how to do so:

a. Transfer credit card points to airline partners

b. Use the points by purchasing directly from the Chase Portal.

I tried searching with travel partners, however, since it was going to be far too costly to use points with travel partners during this time, I ended up using the Chase Portal. It’s basically a travel search engine for Chase cardholders with Ultimate Reward points (that’s what the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve provide). The CSR’s redemption value for its points, the Ultimate Rewards, are worth 1.5 points (1.5 cents) per dollar. How so…due to Chase’s 50% redemption. Some folks consider each point worth 1 penny, so in this case, when you have points with Chase Sapphire Reserve, each point is valued at 1.5%.

My mom was set in wanting to fly All Nippon Airways (ANA), a premier Japanese airlines that she and my dad had flown in the past. It was a good thing that ANA’s flight selection were accessible at the Chase Travel Portal.  We were able to locate flights with ANA, and were happy with the outcome. The points needed were 64,917 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and they all had more than enough book flights for all 4 of them. The out of pocket cost? ZERO, ZILCH, NADA!

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So yes…..I was thrilled to have helped them book these flights. It took some careful planning, strategic planning, and we got it all accomplished. I’m excited for Jojit and Susan – they have not been to the Philippines in over 30 years. Hailey will be visiting the Philippines for the first time as well. My mom, on the other hand, this was kind of a bittersweet homecoming. After my dad passed away in 2016, she hesitated going back to the Philippines.

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Dad’s last trip to the Philippines (Jan 2016) taken at LAX

He was always with her during their return trips to the Philippines, and this would be her first trip back without him. We visited his grave yesterday, as a way of saying goodbye to him before Mom’s trip. It was a bit difficult to be at the gravesite. However, I am hopeful that they will all have a wonderful visit. I’m sure Dad’s spirit will be with them wherever they go. After all #itsmorefuninthephilippines.

Here’s a link to my favorite travel credit cards. Click here.

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