If traveling with your family is presenting challenges for making the most of your points, today’s episode is for you. I’m joined by a seasoned traveler, both with and without her family, and she’s here to share how traveling with kids changes the points game, and all her secrets for making the most of her points.
Dr. Chandani DeZure is a Board Certified Physician living in California who’s been maximizing points for travel since 2014. The points game has changed a lot in those 10 years, and Chandani’s personal points journey has changed significantly in that time too. She started out on a resident’s salary, traveling with no kids and tons of flexibility, and now she’s taking her kids on her trips and her flexibility has all but vanished. But that doesn’t stop her getting an amazing deal.
Tune in this week to discover how traveling with children changes the game when it comes to credit card points and miles. Chandani is discussing how she maximizes her points when traveling with her family, how her priorities have shifted, and you’ll learn tons of practical tips for getting the most out of every point you earn.
Welcome to Point Me to First Class, the only show for employed professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners who are looking to optimize their higher-than-average expenses to travel the world. I'm your host, Devon Gimbel, and I believe that your expenses are your greatest untapped asset if you know how to leverage them. Ready to dive into the world of credit card points and miles so you can travel more, travel better, and travel often? Let's get started.
Devon: Hey, everybody, and welcome back to the podcast. Today I am joined by Dr. Chandani DeZure, a Board Certified Physician that living in California who's been maximizing points for travel since 2014. Not only have points and the game of traveling using points changed a lot in those 10 years, but Chandani’s personal points journey has also evolved over that time.
From traveling on a resident’s salary, meaning not a lot of money, without kids and having lots of flexibility to traveling, with in her words, little munchkins but with limited flexibility. But she loves finding a good deal and making travel more affordable for herself and others. Her priorities when it comes to deciding if a redemption is worth it has also changed over time to evolve with the needs of her family, and she tries to avoid second guessing decisions about points redemptions.
Now we're going to get into all of that and more on today's episode, but first, I want to welcome Chandani to the podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today. I am so happy that you're here.
Chandani: Thanks, Devon. Thank you for having me.
Devon: Absolutely. Now, I wanted to have you on this podcast because you and I have a couple of things in common when it comes to points. We both been doing this for a number of years. So we've had that experience of seeing how just points and miles have changed over that time. But also a little bit randomly because you and I haven't known each other for those 10 years.
But we're around the same age. We have kind of gone through similar kind of life hallmarks in terms of education, and we both have younger families. Then we both have gone through our own personal points or travel evolution in terms of what it looks like when you first get into this game and maybe you are only thinking about needing points for yourself, or maybe you and a partner. Then over time, that changes a lot as you add additional little people into your family.
I think there are a lot of ideas out there about what it means to be able to do points or to do travel, especially if you are traveling with more than one or two people, or how having kids really affects or changes your ability to travel using points. So I thought it'd be really interesting to have you on the podcast today so we can compare and contrast our experiences about traveling before and after kids.
What are the things that were easier than versus maybe some things are easier now? Or just how do we think about still being able to leverage using points to have great travel experiences when it's not just us in the picture anymore? So I really wanted to start by talking to you about tell me more about just what points travel looked like for you in the beginning. So 10 years ago, when you were first starting to earn and use points, what kind of travel did you all do?
Chandani: Yeah, so my points journey actually started when I got married in 2014, and we got married at a Hyatt. It was a big kind of Indian wedding. So we earned a lot of points. We actually leveraged that into our honeymoon and booked, our entire honeymoon was at the Park Hyatt in Maldives that was all booked for points. That's kind of how we got started.
Then very early on, I was probably one of the original people that got the Chase Reserve when it first came out with the 100k bonus, the metal cards that ran out, but I got one before. Like I was that original, and I still have it. That's the one card I have memorized. I use it everywhere. I won't cycle that for me. That's like my little baby.
But also just like I was newly married. I didn't have a lot of money, but flexibility was something I did have. So last minute trips or last minute find for like a weekend getaway was actually not too hard to do before I had kids in which there was a lot more planning. We were fine flying economy or flying flights that were super long or had long layovers, which were more inclined to be available by points because we didn't mind the six hour layover somewhere or anything like that.
The other things is lounge access for us wasn't as big a deal as it is now because same thing. If it was a layover of three, four hours, I was able to kill a little few hours of time without needing a lounge. Yes, it's nice, but I didn't have to have that. So that wasn't a need of mine.
Then over time that has kind of transitioned into what needs I feel our family needs now that I have two young boys. So I do feel I need some of those things like the lounge for them, a place to grab a quick bite to eat or sit and relax between flights.
Devon: Yeah, I can relate to a lot of that. Before we get into some of the nitty gritty details about what it's like to actually travel with little kids, to plan travel around having little kids. Before you started having to think about family travel with points, I'm curious. Were there certain points currencies that you found particularly valuable in your pre-kids travel days? Or were there certain types of flights that you really enjoy booking your hotel stays that you really enjoyed booking when it was just you or just you and your partner?
Chandani: I feel my journey started with the Chase Sapphire Reserve when it came out. So I was a big Chase points person and not a big hotel person. So it was always kind of earmarked for flights. I used to live in Chicago, which is a United hub. So that also helped it being United. At the time, the Chase portal wasn't run by a third party. So the reliability. The redemption wasn't always as great, but the reliability and the ease of use was actually phenomenal at that time.
I wasn't that much into the Amex membership rewards because, honestly, I had a bad experience with Amex in the past when I was in medical school, and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I had a hard time with Amex customer service, which now I actually think they're wonderful. So it was just easier for me to leverage the Chase points.
Nowadays, everybody has apps. It's like award bookings are easily searchable, even on an airline's websites. That wasn't that easy even eight, 10 years ago. It wasn't that easy to find these rewards. So having the portal that kind of did it for me, plus being able to transfer to United, which was an international hub, was the easiest for me to kind of use.
Devon: Yeah, I completely agree with you. When I started in points and miles, it was around the same time as you. It was around 2013/2014. I also started in the Chase ecosystem. I think one of the things that has kind of remained true over this period of time is that Chase points, at least in my experience, they've always been valuable. They're not a currency that, at least in my experience, started out really small or without a lot of options and have gained a lot in their utility.
That's kind of how I think about Capital One. I think starting the game right now, Capital One is such a stronger points currency than when I was starting 10 years ago. But I think that Chase has, at least over the last 10 years, has been a relatively reliable, relatively powerful and useful points currency. That's where I started too.
I did a lot of primarily solo travel at that time. I was traveling for conferences for work. I've always been a solo traveler just in my own spare time. It's something I've always loved. So when I first got into points travel, I remember the thing that hooked me was reading stories on travel blogs and points blogs about how you could turn relatively few points, like the points from one welcome bonus or the points from two welcome bonuses, into long haul international business or first class flights.
I distinctly remember how just learning that that was an actual possibility completely blew my mind. Because I had traveled internationally pretty extensively in my 20s, but it was always on the most shoestring of shoestring budgets. It was how can I take $400 and make this stretch for six months. I would find the cheapest economy flight wherever I was going. Once I got there on the ground, I would take overnight buses places. I would stay in the shared housing and hostels for like $4 a night, and that worked for me in my 20s.
But the thought, for me personally, in my 20s or early 30s about actually being able to sit in a business or first class seat on a long haul flight, I just never imagined. I honestly thought the only time that will ever become a reality for me is if I literally win the lottery. I will have to win millions and millions of dollars before this is something I can consider.
So I so remember back in 2013/2014 when I first started learning about this, realizing oh, I can actually use points for these experiences that never would have been a possibility for me. So when I first started getting into points and collecting Chase points in the beginning, that was my number one priority for my first points redemption. I was like I need to know if this thing is real. Sure people say you can do this online. I've seen the reports. But I want to experience this for myself.
So, for me, the first couple of points redemptions were these absolutely ludicrous, in my mind, these absolutely ludicrous redemptions of flying Lufthansa first class and actually being able to go to the Lufthansa First Class terminal in Frankfurt, which is amazing by the way. If you haven't done that and you've got points, and you're looking for something fun to do with them that maybe you'd never spend cash money on. A first class Lufthansa flight so that you can fly them, one, but you can also experience a First Class terminal in Frankfurt is amazing.
So, for me for a couple of years, that was the pinnacle of points for me. It was really how do I get these long haul international flights that are just an absolutely incredible experience and a really incredible value. I was all about. I love the deal. I love the idea that I can use points to book a, quote unquote, “X thousand dollars” value flight that, again, I never would pay cash for personally. so part of it was the deal. Part of it was like the solving of the points puzzle. What points you need, and what can you turn them into.
But it didn't stay like that for me forever. I think one of the great things about points is that they really are so flexible. That what you can do with points doesn't have to look the same year after year, even if there are elements that you do love that you want to continue to keep the same. I think that's something that I experienced, especially in the transition from when I went to doing primarily solo travel or travel with my husband, into then when we had kids.
A lot of things, I mean, that's an understatement. A lot of things changed when we had kids, no kidding. But a lot of things, especially around travel, changed for us, the way that we planned travel, the places that we started thinking about going, what we really needed to get from our points in terms of the utility and the value change for us a lot.
You've already mentioned briefly like a couple of things that seemed like it changed for you. But I'm just curious. What were some of, in your experience, the biggest challenges that came with having kids in terms of them thinking about actually planning travel and executing travel?
Chandani: It's funny you mentioned the Lufthansa because that was one of my earliest redemptions. It was booked a United saver booked on Lufthansa middle to Greece that stopped at Frankfurt. Interestingly enough, one of the things that has changed pre and post-children. So that Greece flight that were I took the Lufthansa flight, there was only one award saver. So my husband and I actually flew separately home, three hours apart. We were willing to do that because, you know what? We both got to fly business. It's okay. We can sit apart for three hours the day.
But anyway, that was one thing that as an adult, ideally, I'd love to fly with my partner. But it was an option to save the points and make the points work when there weren't as many seats. So the biggest thing is, I think the change that has happened is a lack in flexibility of just dates and timings of flight. So my kids are so little, but they still have school schedules and things like that to plan around or breaks, winter break, spring breaks, all that kind of stuff to plan around.
Then the timings of the flights also matter of just what time of day, can we take the red eye? Can we not take the red eye? Is going to interfere with naptime? Things like that. Kind of the elephant in the room is you need more seats. You need more than one seat, right?
So when I had my first kid, we needed three, and now we need four. That's not, as the point world and the point redemption world gets bigger and easier to access for everybody, the number of available seats decreases. Some airlines only release a certain number. So I think that's something that's been something we have to keep in mind is how many seats can we get? Then is paying cash for the others worth it or not? Or how do we do that breakdown to maximize our points?
Also, for international flights, kids cash price is actually lower than the adult fare. So that factors into the redemption of is this worth it? Honestly, we've gone both ways of if that cash price point is not worth it to us, we're like no. Or we say hey, this is a trip we really want to do. We are going to spend some money and some points. Or the redemption isn't as great as it could be some other time or day, but it works for us for the dates and times. We're willing to spend those points capital for that trip. We go back and forth based on how important it is and what the itinerary is.
Devon: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with you in terms of some of the challenges that I think have really come into play for us. You and I were talking a little bit before we pressed record. We both have two young kids. They're not exactly the same age, but my kids are eight and five, and your kids are just a little bit younger than mine are. I definitely think that the scheduling and the itinerary are two of the biggest things that have become what feels like challenges to me in terms of points travel.
Where I agree that we could probably pull our kids out of school a day early or keep them a day late in terms of their school schedules. But when we do travel with them, we really do try to stick to their actual breaks from school so that they're not pulled out of school for a long time. The timing thing as well.
I'm someone where if there's a really great price flight, and it happens to leave at 6:00 a.m., I may not be thrilled about that, but I can get myself out of bed and I can get myself to an airport for 6:00 a.m. flight if it means that, I'm going to have more time in my destination, or I'm going to save a lot of money or points. But that's just not that feasible, in my experience, with my kids. Maybe those of you listening have very different children than I do, but that's really not feasible for us.
So I have definitely found that in terms of just options, the options feel a little bit more constrained to me in the way that I travel with my family now compared to when I'm either traveling solo now or certainly before I had kids in terms of, like you said, not necessarily being able to just leave at the drop of the hat or not being able to take advantage of some great last minute deal because I need to make sure that we're working around my kids’ school schedule.
Especially in terms of the itinerary with kids, the ages that mine are. My eight year old’s getting to the point where he's doing really, really well on flights, especially flights that are a little bit longer. But my five year old, bless her, I do not want to be trapped inside of a metal tube with her for more than a few hours.
She's absolutely amazing, but she is the personality of, I describe her as having a personality of a mongoose crossed with the honey badger. That means that she has limited patience, and she's five. She doesn't have the ability yet to understand no, we need to sit and be still and be quiet for six or seven hours at length. So I have not tried to do long haul travel with my kids.
Also in terms of timing, we were very cognizant, especially the last two years of traveling post-pandemic, about things like not dragging our kids out of bed super early in the morning to go and catch a flight, not booking the flight that lands back at home at 11:30 at night. Something that might be just a little bit challenging for me alone or might make me a little bit tired. I think that is much more difficult for very, very little kids to handle.
I think, as parents, I mean, I guess I'll speak for myself. I'm very cognizant of not stressing my kids too much in the actual travel. Because if they're very stressed out, they're going to start melting down, which means it's going to be very challenging for me, personally, to try to comfort them.
I'm also acutely aware of people around us. I'm acutely aware of people sitting on an airplane and maybe not being super thrilled to be next to a very young child. So a lot of our travel planning has come down to what's going to give us the highest chance of our kids not being so stressed out that a meltdown is super likely. Of course, we can't control these things.
But I have personally found that yeah, not scheduling flights super early or super late, not having really long itineraries where your travel day ends up being 14 or 15 hours with a layover, those are things that have really, I think, impacted our ability to have relatively easier travel days. So, of course, that is a little bit more limiting than if all of the options are open to you.
So I'm just curious to hear from you, thinking about some of the limitations or challenges around travel planning that have come with having kids. What are some of the ways that you've addressed those in your family or that have helped you overcome those and made traveling, especially traveling with points, a little bit easier?
Chandani: I had the same concerns. But post-pandemic we kind of, I don't know, just went in the deep end and took the kids to Japan to join my husband during a work trip that was kind of a last minute thing. It was like should we, shouldn't we? We decided to, this is a trip where we spent probably more points capitol than we would have liked to, but it was we all got to go to Japan last minute.
I don't know if I was just lucky, or it all worked out. My kids did incredible. So we were able to get a direct flight back, but the flight over included a layover. Which, again, the it helped that it wasn't the 6:00 a.m. flight. It was like a midday flight. Then before I wasn't like traveling business is really nice, but I don't need it if it gets me to a destination that I'm trying to go.
But with my kids that still napped, it was actually really nice to have the lie flat seats, which sounds a little like oh. It sounds bougie, I know. But to have that space for a kid to finish their nap and sleep so that rejuvenates them. When we landed in Tokyo, we actually did an outing. That was not planned, but the kids were ready to like explore when we landed, which made our trip better, right?
Being able to afford the lie flat seats by points. We ended up basically with an extra day there instead of spending the afternoon kind of sleeping in a hotel. And it let the kids be in a better mood, which meant we were in a better mood to kind of navigate this country where we didn't speak the language, and we're learning it a little bit on the go because it was a last minute trip.
So I'm spending more time looking for the right kind of fit in terms of itineraries because both dates and times and number of seats. That just takes more energy to do is looking at more flights, more airlines, or more timings or which layovers are we willing to tolerate?
Aside from Japan, we have decided to shorten the duration of the flight that we're stuck inside them. I'm maybe a little more, I don't know, graceful of my kids. I would love to not bother with my neighbor, but I can't control my. I can plan the perfect trip, and they could still have a meltdown on the plane. So I bring a lot of things to distract them and new toys and dollar store toys to kind of help get through the trip. So that helps. But I also, I let them sometimes have their moments that they need them.
I did find that having a layover was helpful and a longer trip in the middle of just letting them run to the airport to kind of get some of that energy out. The lounges have been helpful when we've needed like quick food or quick coffees, things like that, as opposed to waiting in a long line. My kids do really bad with lines. So that almost every airport restaurant, coffee place has a line that's so long, at least 20/30 minutes long, and my kids wouldn't tolerate that. So a lounge, for that reason, is really nice for us.
Some of the perks that we get with some of our credit cards. For me, my partner and I would land somewhere, and we just go out and try the local cuisine. My kids are not adventurous eaters. So having a breakfast is actually, a breakfast included, is actually a huge perk that saves us time and that doesn't, like my kids have something to eat that I know that's included at the hotel where I'm not going to have to try to navigate a place where they are, you know, want to eat something. So things like that that I wasn't thinking about before, but now I do.
In terms of finding the fights, there's just more options, right? There's tools now, the airline websites are easier to access, I would say, and then Google Flights didn't even exist eight years ago, right? But just finding the routes. Sometimes it's okay, well it's been a while. We should go somewhere. Just finding where your hub or your city goes to direct, and which cities of those you want to target. Then kind of parsing through will which airlines fly there and which points will get me there. That's kind of been a place to start for me now when I want to travel if there isn't a specific destination in mind.
Devon: Yeah, some of those perks that you mentioned in terms of making the family travel, the actual experience of travel, a little bit easier for you all. Things like lounge access or breakfast benefits. Are there specific cards that you currently use that you actually love for those specific perks? I'm really curious if there are cards that you concentrate on getting or holding for those perks?
Or if, in terms of the breakfast benefit, one of the things that's become important to you is getting status, loyalty status with a hotel. What are some of the things that you've actually relied on to get some of these perks that you've mentioned that have made family travel easier for you?
Chandani: Yeah, so, of course, I go back to my old near and dear to my heart, my Chase Sapphire Reserve. Their priority pass, I think, has been the best for like the entirety of my 10 years in the game. I know certain airports have certain lounges that may be nicer. I don't have a Centurion lounge at my home airport. Even when I did, it was during COVID. So, we never really used it all that much. I don't find the difference enough for me to be oh, I'm missing the Centurion lounge. Yes, I'm sure it's nicer in certain places.
But one thing that also did at SFO before they had the Centurion lounge, they didn't have a lounge. They only had a restaurant benefit. So I was able to use that as a meal. So that has been kind of the steady horse, even though I know there's pockets where other, I do have the Amex Platinum to get me to a Centurion lounge if I needed it. I just It hasn't come up in my travel. Then I have used both the Fine Hotels and Resorts through Amex when I book a the hotel to get some of the breakfast benefits or the late checkout, right?
Chandani: That becomes a big thing. The hotel piece. Before kids, I didn't care really where I stayed. The location was great. I hoped it was fairly safe. I wouldn't get mugged, but it didn't matter. A bed was enough. A bed and a bathroom was actually pretty good. But now that I've kids, I need space, and I want to make sure that we can check in when we land or have a place to take the kids, or if we have a late flight then we have late checkout.
So those points I've had that both with the Fine Hotels and Resorts collection with Amex, but then also some of the loyalty with like Hilton and Hyatt. Again, with our wedding at Hyatt, I'm a Hyatt loyalist. I don't have Globalist at Hyatt right now. It depends where we stay. We say typically at Hyatt but some places that don't have good Hyatt options, we do have like our Hilton status helps us as well. So.
Devon: Yeah, I think those are great points to make. That in terms specifically around lounge access and then being able to get perks at hotels, there's so many different options that are available. For lounge access, there are certain credit cards that have some really, really great lounge perks. But, like you said, if you happen to live in an area or to frequent those airports that have them because not every single airport has all these different types of lounge access that's available to you.
So some of the premium travel credit cards come with, what you were referring to, the priority pass membership, which is just being able to access a whole network of lounges. Not only domestically in the US if you're based in the US, but also internationally. But not every single airport is going to have a priority pass lounge.
Similarly, if you have one of the platinum cards from American Express, and you have access to a Centurion lounge, that's amazing. But there's actually not that many Centurion lounges scattered throughout the United States. Now we're seeing more of the premium travel credit cards introducing sort of their own version, their kind of branded lounges. Capital One is really coming on strong with some of their lounges. Chase is finally starting to introduce airport specific lounges.
But the actual footprint of a lot of these cards specific lounges is actually quite small, in my opinion. We're not talking about hundreds of different lounges across all airports. Not even every major airport has a lot of these lounges. I am constantly cranky about the fact that O'Hare is one of the busiest air airports in the entire country. That's my home airport. We are an absolute lounge desert. It kills me. It hurts my heart so much that we have so few really incredible lounge options.
But for those of you who live in different parts of the country, maybe your home airport does have a Centurion lounge or Capital One lounge. I think that these are the types of things that can really start favoring certain, especially of the premium rewards credit cards, over others is that it does give you access to a lounge that you can actually then frequent on a fairly regular basis.
I think that that really changes the travel experience, again, whether you're solo, but especially if you have kids and you sort of need that place that's a little bit more contained, a little bit more quiet where you can kind of sit down and get everyone a little bit of food or a little bit of water. I think lounge access is so important.
Then also you were talking about in terms of hotel benefits. I can relate to what you said so much. I was actually thinking sort of in the timeline of my points travel journey, it was almost like a very defining line for me in terms of the before kids and after kids. Was that before kids, very similar to you, hotels were just not huge priority for me.
If it was a place that was in a relatively good location, again, had a place where we could sleep, store our stuff, that was fine. It just never really mattered to me in terms of having a luxury hotel experience or having anything special that came along with a hotel. For me, really allocating my points to having great flights outweighed the hotel by like a thousand to one.
I distinctly remember that all changed is when my son, who's the oldest of my two kids. When he was three months old, my husband and I really wanted to take a trip. We wanted to have a break. It was the winter in Chicago. We were like let's kind of get out of here, let's do a family thing. We took our three month old with us to Mexico because we just wanted to go someplace warm where we could all just sit and relax.
Bringing a three month old infant to a hotel where we're all sharing the same room and all waking up together all throughout the night for all of the times that he was awake. Having to keep the room really dark during the day every couple hours for his nap is when I realized oh, this is not the same. Traveling with a kid is not the same. I never, up until that point, really started thinking about what points would be valuable for hotel stays, how can I leverage points for different benefits at hotels.
Then sort of not right after that but fairly soon after that, the time that we were starting to think about ramping up family travel again after we had our second child, that's when the pandemic hit. So obviously, everybody was at home, for a year, for two years. Travel was not the thing on anybody's mind. But post-pandemic, traveling with our kids who, at that time, were around two to three years old and five to six years old, the hotel piece became so incredibly important to us.
So much that I think about the trends and the way that I've prioritized points and earn points. I think for us the single biggest shift that happened was pre-kids, like I said, I focused almost all of our points redemptions really on flights. Post-kids, I think basically 98% of our Chase points go directly or are allocated directly to going specifically to Hyatt for hotel stays. There's a couple of different major hotel chains where you can benefit from using points.
For our family, Hyatt just happened to be the hotel chain that worked the best for us for two reasons. One of them is that it's one of the very few hotel chains where when there is availability, you can outright book a proper one bedroom suite using points from the beginning.
That, again, for our family and the way we travel has been such a game changer and a sanity saver for us to be able to book a trip, and at the outset know okay, we have a space. There's a bedroom where whoever's not napping can be cordoned off from a different space, and the kids are not on top of each other. So they're not fighting constantly. That has been such a big game changer for us.
Those are the types of hotel stays that, again in my opinion, are outrageously expensive. If you actually think about going anywhere that's sort of like at least a kid friendly destination where you're trying to book a one bedroom suite for five days or six days, those are all incredibly expensive.
I didn't want our entire travel budget to be going to a hotel room when, again, I don't actually care that much about the hotel room. But I do care about people being able to sleep and not being on top of each other. So being able to leverage, specifically for us, those Hyatt points to book hotel stays has been a huge game changer for us in terms of family travel.
But the other thing about it too are the perks and the benefits. I don't actually think that pursuing hotel status is right for everybody. I think it has to make sense for you based on your travel frequency and your travel patterns and then what you're actually going to get out of the status you have. But for us in the ages that our kids are right now, for us to make an effort to be loyal to Hyatt, to be able to get Globalist status, their top tier status, because of the perks that come with it. Again, right now and in this phase of our life is a real really, really great fit for us.
But for those of you for whom really going after status with one hotel chain, whether it's Hilton or Marriott or Hyatt, if that actually doesn't make sense for you, there are other ways where you can actually get some of these perks that Chandani was referring to without actually having top tier status. We're not going to go way into the weeds into detail on that right now. We'll probably do a completely different episode about that.
But she did mention booking through, if you have an Amex card, like the Fine Hotels and Resorts collection. Oftentimes, if you book through a premium kind of hotel service attached to one of your rewards credit cards, you have the benefit of some of those status perks, like early check in or late checkout or the possibility of a room upgrade or free breakfast. Which, again, if it's just you traveling solo, free breakfast may not appeal to you at all.
But if you've got kids who want to order three things and then refuse to eat any of them but then still need to eat breakfast before you get on your way, and you don't want to spend $200 for that at your hotel, it's really nice to have some of those benefits and those perks. But, like I said, we're not going to get into all the little granular details of that on this episode.
But Chandani, I'm really curious to hear from you kind of now where you all are in terms of your travel priorities and the things that you're thinking about on the horizon for your family and traveling. Is there one particular points currency that you have found to be really helpful or really valuable for you as you do family travel? Or are you kind of a free agent? Do you collect all sorts of different points currencies?
Chandani: Yeah, so I would say for me, like I said, I started with Chase, and I was actually pretty loyal. It worked because it gave me the Hyatt, a good portal prior to a third party switch, and it gave me United, which was my hub out of O'Hare as well at the time. But as we've moved around and points booking has gotten a little easier. I don't have Capital One.
So I do Amex Ultimate Membership rewards and Chase Ultimate rewards. But I will say it has transitioned from mostly Chase to mostly Amex. I agree our Chase points get earmarked for Hyatt stays for that exact reason of it gives us this option to upgrade or have a bigger suite.
When you book the hotels with points, at least at Hyatt, I don't know because I don't use the Hilton and Marriott as much in terms of points. The resort fees are removed. The additional taxes and fees also come off, which adds up over like a week stay. If you go somewhere, all that adds up. So my Chase is now also exclusively earmarked for Hyatt stays.
Then for flights, I usually use Amex. I haven't delved into Citi or Cap One. I think that's just how my mind works. I'm also in a city that doesn't have a hub of an airline. So if there was, I think I would go after a co-branded credit card. But I don't think that it's worth it for me where I am right now in terms of the location, the airlines, and the destination. So.
But it's come up. Should we get something that's specific to an airline? Now I probably would get a United if I was in Chicago. Atlanta, I'd probably get a Delta co-branded card. But for us, the Hyatt, for the hotel, because we need the space for the kids similar to you. International, I actually find that the Amex has much more transferability than Chase does for the airlines that we want to fly.
Devon: Yeah, that's been my experience as well. I think that's one of the things that, especially, again, depending on your personal situation, how long you've been in points, how many expenses you have to allocate across different types of credit cards or points currencies, and also just your general preference level in terms of how much you want to manage and keep track of. I do think that is one of the benefits of branching out into more than one point ecosystem is just to expand your options for when you do end up wanting to use those points.
I think some of the points currencies have strengths over other ones. I agree that I think especially when it comes to redeeming points for international travel, I think the American Express transfer partners are fantastic. Just the number of options that you have to book flights to various different places at really good points prices is very strong with American Express.
Before we wrap up this episode today, Chandani, I just have one more question for you. I was curious if you could share with all of us just any final words of advice that you have for people looking to maximize their points travel with kids or even sort of undergoing that transition of their own points travel evolving from the pre-kids phase to the post-kids phase. Any advice that you could give to any of us. I'm also going to be taking notes because even though I do have two kids, and I've been traveling with them for a number of years, I'm always looking for more tips to make it easier and better for myself as well.
Chandani: A, I think there just has to be a shift in the mentality of what you were using your, if you were using points before kids, it’s just going to be a little different. It typically goes with flexibility, and you're going to need more points for them.
But that it doesn't have to actually stop travel. Travel isn't unaffordable or impossible now that you've had kids. I think that's important because I think a lot of people think, that's the piece I think people get caught up with. It's more expensive. It's harder. I can't do it. I will say I feel like people always ask is this a good value? I think that's the piece that's really important.
The most important thing for me has been value’s more than the number value. Value is more than the number of points or whatever cash that you might be paying. The value is what is it worth to you and your family at this moment in time? Is it a one of a kind experience that you don't know when you're going to get to do again, then I would say it's worth those points. Or is it hey, it's a place we can go every year, and I don't really think we have to go this year, that sort of thing. Or is it easy to get to, hard to get to? Value is what's it worth to you and your family.
Yes, sometimes there's amazing redemptions, but I rarely find those for my family. Two cents is pretty common. Sometimes even like 1.8. I can live with that. For what I am getting out of it, because one of the other things that when you have little kids is that they can't travel alone. You can't book a ticket for them. So you have to pair him with an adult as well. So we usually split one kid with one adult. So it's I would love to put my little kid on a reservation by himself, but I can't.
So that's just some of the logistical challenges you have, and you have to kind of live with it. I don't second guess. Once I book, I'm done. I'm not going to go back. If something gets cheaper, I'll check so I can get some points or money back, but I'm not going to go like nuts over $10 here and $10 there because I booked with a redemption I was comfortable with for an experience that I was willing to have.
Devon: Chandani, thank you so much for sharing those tips. I think they're so relevant. I agree with you so much that as much as, like I said, I love to chase the deal. I love to get an amazing redemption value out of all of my points. That, at the end of the day, I think that travel was personal. Points travel is personal, and value is in the eye of the beholder. So thank you so much for reminding us of that.
Thank you as well for coming on the show today, for sharing your experiences, and your story with us. I really appreciate it. For anybody who's listening who wants to follow you, find out more about what you do, where can they find you online?
Chandani: Thanks so much for having me, Devon. So I actually as part of my, since I love finding good deals, my husband said I should become a travel agent. So I did. So find me at DeZure Dream Destinations on Instagram. I help people book travel, but I also help people find point redemptions as well as part of my agency. Then that's also my Instagram is DeZure Dream Destinations, and that's my website as well.
Devon: Amazing. We will link all of that up in the show notes for those of you who are driving or you're not in a place right now where you can go ahead and check out those links if you want to. You'll be able to find them in the episode show notes. Chandani, thank you so much for joining me today. Everybody, thank you for joining us. I'll see you back here again next week. Bye everybody.
Thank you for joining me for this week's episode of Point Me to First Class. If you want more tips on turning your expenses into travel, visit pointmetofirstclass.com to learn more. See you next week.