YES, you can do it! Two years before a big trip, my husband and I research how many miles we need to book a business class saver flight with points on airlines that fly direct to our chosen destination. The business class saver seats cost significantly less miles even though the seats and service are the same. These types of seats are offered on less flights so they need to be booked in advance.
Here's how we score free seats: We each open an airline loyalty credit card and then we put everything we can on the one card so we each get the introductory bonus miles. The trick is not to open a joint card because then you only get one set of bonus miles. The bonus miles really help as its difficult to rack up enough miles in a year without them. You have to focus spending on just the airline credit card to rack up enough miles to score a seat to your chosen destination. If you're going to travel with your partner, you may want to stagger opening the cards by a month or two to give you both the best shot at spending enough on each card to get the bonus.
Seats are released a year in advance so you should have plenty of time to get to the target number of miles to snap up a business class saver seat. When you book the flight, make sure to coordinate booking with your partner/travel buddy and then call the airline to change the seats so you can be together. Even though the flight is free, remember you still have to pay taxes. For some countries, the taxes are really expensive so it doesn't make sense to pay for the flight with miles like trips between London and New York. However, New York to South America is a steal! You get a few thousand dollar flight for less than a $100 in taxes. Using this strategy, my husband and I flew business class roundtrip from New York City to Buenos Aires, Argentina on United Airlines and New York City to Lima, Peru using American Airlines miles redeemed on LAN airlines.
If you decide to try this strategy out, remember, you're not scoring a deal if you end up paying astronomical amounts of interest on credit card purchases. Make sure to pay the full balance of the credit card every month!
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