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Rewards Pro – Making Family Award Travel Work

family-flightIt is really easy for single people to use their reward points and miles to travel. Or at least, that is what I concluded when I started booking awards for three or four people. It turns out that it can be twice as hard to find two award tickets together, than one, and four times as hard to find three seats together. Finding four award seats on a plane is like winning the lottery!

Nevertheless, there are some ways I have found to make this work. Here are my top tips:

Look for fixed value points and miles. Traditional airline miles require families to find available awards, while fixed value points and miles are just worth a fixed amount. Fixed value programs from airlines include Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Virgin America, and JetBlue. In the field of credit card rewards, these programs include Capital One Venture Rewards, Barclaycard Arrival, and Citi ThankYou points. Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to miles or used at a fixed value for travel.

Book air 11 months out. If you have to book a trip using traditional frequent flier miles, book it as early as possible. With most programs, travelers can book as early as 11 months in advance. Coincidentally, families will already know their children’s school schedules way in advance, so this isn’t really that much of an inconvenience. The biggest problem for me is that the anticipation is extraordinary.

Split the team. Eventually, every family must conclude that the trip is about the destination, not necessarily the journey. So it can make sense to send part of the family on one flight, and the other on a separate flight. It seems unlikely that a family of 5 or more will ever find that many award seats on one plane.

Wait for schedule changes. So you plan 11 months in advance, and you split the team onto multiple flights, but don’t give up yet. Airlines frequently change their schedules throughout the year, and give passengers a chance to rebook their flights if it affects them. So simply call the airline and tell them that the schedule change is unacceptable to you, no matter how small. Then, request that your award seats be re-accommodated on the flight of your choice.

Traveling as a family has its challenges, but it can be extremely rewarding. By using every trick in the book, you can use your points and miles to get your family where you want to go.

  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 12.99% - 22.99% based upon your creditworthiness*
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater*
  • 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou Point on other purchases.
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Redeem ThankYou Points for merchandise, travel rewards, gift cards, cash and more
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with Chip Technology
  • No annual fee*
Purchases Intro
Balance Transfers Intro
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed

0%* for 15 months*

0%* for 15 months*

12.99%-22.99% (Variable)*


Excellent Credit

  • Earn 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $200 travel statement credit
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR currently 14.99% or 18.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X miles on travel and dining and 1X miles on all other purchases
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Book the travel you want — airfare, hotels, cruises and more and earn miles on your purchase
  • Get 10% miles back to use toward your next redemption every time you redeem for travel statement credits
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score access for Barclaycard Arrival cardmembers
Purchases Intro
Balance Transfers Intro
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed


0% for 12 months*

14.99% or 18.99% Variable*


Excellent Credit

Editor's Note: This content is not provided by Citi. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the Citi or any of the other companies whose products are featured in this content.

About the author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele is a freelance journalist specializing in personal finance and travel and is recognized as an expert in credit cards. He is a regular contributor to many of the top personal finance sites such as Wise Bread and Money Talks News. His work has been frequently carried on mainstream news outlets such as MSN Money, Yahoo, Finance, and Business insider.

Jason lives in Denver Colorado with his wife and two daughters.

– has written 325 posts.

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