Credit Card Makeover: Grace Goes to South America

What's Hot


5 Reasons to Shop for a Home in DecemberFamily

Shoppers Boycott Businesses Selling Trump-Branded ProductsBusiness

15 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar StoreMore

Giving Thanks: Why Foreigners Find America AmazingAround The House

New Email Phishing Scam Targets Amazon ShoppersMore

50 Best Gifts Under $25 for Everyone on Your ListFamily

Why Washing Your Turkey Can Make You IllFamily

Pay $2 and Get Unlimited Wendy’s Frosty Treats in 2017Family

The 7 Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar StoreMore

What the Richest 1 Percent Earns in Every StateFamily

10 Ways to Retire Earlier Than Friends on the Same SalaryGrow

The 10 Best Ways to Blow Your MoneyCredit & Debt

The 50 Hottest Toys of the Past 50 YearsFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

Can you travel to South America by using credit card rewards? Sure, if you follow these steps.

I review dozens of credit card offers each week to find the best deals. Check out our credit card pageWant your own credit card makeover? Email me

Grace is a physical therapist in Denver who loves to travel. She’s used her miles for trips to Europe and Asia, but she always seems to have to pay more miles than she expects.

“I’d like to travel to South America next,” she says. “I have a friend in Santiago, Chile. Also, I’d love to hike Machu Picchu in Peru. Perhaps see the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador.”

But can she do it with airline mileage awards instead of her own cash?

Where Grace is at…

“I currently have several cards.  I like how my Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express earns airline miles and perks – like a companion ticket, free first baggage checked, and early boarding. But I don’t like the$95 annual fee and the fact that AmEx is not accepted everywhere. I have also had trouble finding Delta awards to Europe at low mileage levels.

“My Discover More Card has no annual fee, 1 percent cash back, and quarterly promotions for higher cash back percentages. But like the AmEx, it’s not widely accepted, and I can only redeem cash back awards in $20 increments.

“My Frontier MasterCard has  no annual fee, earns some airline miles, and is widely accepted. But it offers very few miles for this fee-free version of the card.

“Finally, I have the First Bank Visa Credit Card. It has no annual fee and 1 percent cash back. It’s widely accepted, but I only collect a cash-back award once a year.

“I never carry a balance, and most of these cards are set up as automatic online monthly payments. So what can I do to earn more miles?”

What Grace needs to do…

Delta offers some flights to South America from its Atlanta hub, but as you’ve probably discovered on your last trip to Europe, Delta is notorious for offering very few seats at the lowest mileage levels. That’s why I love American Airlines. It always seems to have a reasonable number of awards available at their low-mileage rate. And AA flies to South America from hubs in Dallas and Miami, as well as through its partner carrier LAN.

The American Airlines AAdvantage card from Citi offers 30,000 miles after spending only $1,000 within three months. In fact, this card just added new perks such as free checked bags, priority boarding, and a 10 percent rebate on miles used for awards.  Grace can get an award to Ecuador or Peru for as little as 30,000 miles off-peak, or 35,000 miles year-round.

Another way to earn award flights to South America on American and LAN is with the new British Airways card offer from Chase. Cardholders earn 50,000 points after their first purchase and up to 50,000 more points when they spend $20,000 in the first year. Since British Airways is a partner of both American and LAN, its points go very far when going south.

Finally, once she gets all the points she needs for her big trip, Grace might consider one of the top cash-back cards like the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express.

By selecting the right mix of cards to get her where she’s going, Grace can see the sights of South America sooner than she thinks.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: Missed HBO’s ‘Westworld’? Here’s How to Watch it, Along With Everything on HBO, Free

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,699 more deals!