As much as I love planning trips in advance I enjoy making spontaneous trips. Last spring when I got redundant at my previous job and was sitting at home and thinking what to do next, I decided to go home and visit my family (also, being without a job in Russia is much cheaper than being in the same situation in London).
Last minute tickets to Saint Petersburg are around £250-£300 which is quite expensive. Luckily, I had an American Express credit card (Amex) I had been using to collect miles. How it works is for every £1 spent you earn 1 mile. I use it every time I need to pay for anything, thus I’ve collected thousands of miles over a few years. It’s connected to a British Airways account and you can use it to cover your flight costs. You end up paying only airport taxes, which are vary from one place to another.
For the dates I wanted to travel there was no economy class flight available, only business class. I ended up paying £25 and around 17000 miles for a business class ticket home (economy flight for other days cost 7000 miles). Since the only reason to collect miles for me was travelling, I got my ticket and flew home the next day.
I’m not fussy about the comfort of the flight I choose a good bargain over the conditions I travel in (saving money all the time!). For business class passengers in Heathrow, there are some pleasant perks: separate check it zone, followed by a quick security check and a lounge with unlimited food. On a plane, you get an extra smile from flight attendants and quicker food service. Overall, everything is quicker. Very enjoyable for £25 only.
On the top of that, if you manage to collect 20,000 miles within a year, you get a companion voucher. It means you get a second ticket for free for your friend or a partner. They will only have to pay this airport tax and that’s it! Everything also depends on the destination and you need to spend some time browsing different options, but you can end up flying London – Hong Kong and back for £300 which is quite good I think.
Now, this is a credit card and you have to be careful with how to use it. There are some rules I follow myself and strongly recommend you do the same:
- I use Amex for all my purchases, online and offline. Actually, I use it everywhere it’s accepted
- Once a week, on Sunday I pay it off with my debit card to avoid paying fees (I have a reminder on my phone so I don’t forget)
- Amex limit, which is currently 8k at the moment is not the money I have, but the funds I can borrow – so no excessive shopping or buying things I normally can’t afford
- They will send you different deals like ‘Get £50 back when spending £150 in X shop’ – this is simply to make you spend the money you wouldn’t normally spend. Ignore these marketing traps.
At the same time, they sometimes have good cashback offers on something you would use, i.e. at the moment they offer 5% back on pay as you go spend with TFL, which isn’t bad at all. Another example of a good deal was a 1000 Avios for spending £25 on Amazon. I had to purchase some things anyway, so I used that offer as well.
If you haven’t already, you can apply for a card here and get 6000 welcome miles*. They might ask you to send them your proof of address and that’s it.
*This is my referral link, which means if you use it I will get some extra miles at no cost to you.
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