I would say that I am pretty darn good at getting points, and I do a pretty good job of redeeming hotel points for pretty good value. My weakness is definitely redeeming airline miles, simply because that’s what I have done the least of.

A few of my friends are going WWOOFing for a few months starting in October, and a mutual friend expressed interest in going to visit when they are in Australia in December. Flights from our home airport of DTW to CNS are running around $2,000 on the ‘ideal’ travel dates of December 6-16, which is out of this friend’s price range for this trip. He asked if I had any ideas for him. My initial thought was to check through Expedia Brazil using the method The Mr. Pickles outlines here, however, it appears that Qantas has pulled their availability, so that doesn’t do any good. This friend has only a few Avios, which won’t be enough to do anything long-haul, but other than that is pretty much starting from scratch. He is not new to, nor opposed to the idea of credit card churning, so the next thing I did was go to work checking out award availability.

I was able to find the following options:

  1. DTW – SYD, Dec 5 – Dec 16, Economy for 80,000 miles + $138, UA outbound and flying with partner Air China on the way home, Avios would be used to fly SYD – CNS
  2. DTW – SYD, Dec 5 – Dec 14, Economy outbound and Business inbound for 107,600 + $132, UA outbound and flying with partner Air China on the way home, Avios would be used to fly SYD – CNS
  3. DTW – CNS, Economy for 100,000 miles + $137.20, DL

I recommended that it would be best to pursue both options, because who knows what availability will look like in 6-8 weeks… so I recommended the following credit cards (I used Frequent Miler’s Best Credit Card Offers page to find the best current deals… the 2 UA offers are not technically public offers at this time YMMV).

For United:

  • United Mileage Plus Explorer, 55K miles for $1,000 spend in 3 months and adding an authorized user
  • United Mileage Plus Explorer Business Card, 50K miles for $2,000 spend in 3 months

For Delta:

  • Delta Gold Skymiles, 45K for $5,000 spend in 6 months
  • Business Gold Rewards Card, 50K for $5,000 spend in 3 months

The entire $13,000 minimum spend will be hit in the first statement period (using vanilla ice cream and amazon payment methods) so that miles will post ASAP, and I can take another look at the award availability then.


To me, these both look like pretty good options, getting right around 2cpm even for an economy ticket, but I wanted to see if there was anything I could be missing!


If you think I could get a better deal for my friend, that sticks within the following criteria, please let me know!

  • Dates: Ideally December 6 – 16, 2013. +/- 2 ish days in each direction is ok
  • Airports: DTW – CNS, or nearby. ORD would be ok to fly out of, and there are approximately 35,000 Avios that can be used for domestic flights in Australia (from BNE or SYD?) (or in the US for that matter)
  • Less than $600, including taxes, credit card fees, and manufactured spend related fees
  • Credit cards are ok, but no more than $13,000 in minimum spend