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How to Travel Hack New Orleans

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In February, two weeks after I travel hacked Las Vegas, I travel hacked New Orleans.

Despite my love for beignets, it had been more than 12 years since my last visit to the Big Easy. A return visit was long overdue.

But unlike my trip many years ago, on this visit, I travel hacked New Orleans for a total trip cost of $167.90.

Here’s how I hacked my trip to New Orleans and you can too!

How to Travel Hack New Orleans

This is part 1 of a multi-part series on travel hacking New Orleans.

I flew roundtrip from San Diego to New Orleans for a weekend getaway including an overnight layover in Dallas for $16.80.

Pro-tip: Without the stop in Dallas, the trip would have cost $11.20.

This was a short trip to attend a miles and points meetup.

Cost

 Cost if I Paid CashWhat I Paid (Actual Cost)Miles or Points Used 
Roundtrip coach ticket on American Airlines$347$16.8020,000 American Airlines miles
1 night at the Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport in an Executive Suite$151.10$151.10
1 night at the Hyatt Place New Orleans Convention Center$248$0.0012,000 Hyatt points
TOTAL$746.10$167.9
AMOUNT SAVED$578.20

I used miles and points earned from the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, World of Hyatt card, and Chase Sapphire Reserve card. You can travel hack New Orleans using other credit cards. Scroll down to learn more.

Flights

Several airlines fly from San Diego to New Orleans so there are a lot of options. The least expensive ticket was $346.

Most airlines charge 25,000 miles roundtrip for a free flight. For that price, it makes sense to buy the ticket instead of using miles.

Unless you can find a better deal, as I did.

Because I was traveling solo I couldn’t use the Southwest Companion Pass.

I found an economy web special on American Airlines to New Orleans for 8,000 that included an overnight in Dallas. One less night in New Orleans but I would avoid a redeye flight.

For the return flight from New Orleans to San Diego I booked a standard award of 12,500 miles.

The cost for both flights was 20,000 miles plus $16.80.

On the way to New Orleans, my Business Platinum Card from American Express gave me free access to the San Diego Airspace Lounge and $10 credit for food and drinks. The card also got me into the Centurion Lounge at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport.

While in Dallas because I have the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and was flying on American Airlines, I had access to the Admirals Club.

Flying home from New Orleans, my Chase Sapphire Reserve card got me into the Club MSY.

Pro-tip: You can get free access to airport lounges with your credit card.

Hotels

To avoid a redeye flight to New Orleans, I stayed at two Hyatt hotels during this weekend getaway to New Orleans.

There are many hotels including Hilton, IHG, and Marriott. So you can use points from your Hilton Surpass, your IHG card, and your Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card.

Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport

For my overnight in Dallas, I stayed at the Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport in a suite. I’ve stayed here many times before and they treat Globalists very well. Free night awards are 8,000 points per night. Sometimes you luck out and rooms are inexpensive so you have to decide when you should use points and when to pay cash for hotelsWith taxes, I paid $151.10.

Pro-tip: This is a Category 4 hotel so you can use your free night certificate from the World of Hyatt card.

Hyatt Place New Orleans Convention Center

While in New Orleans, I stayed at the Hyatt Place New Orleans Convention Center. I used 12,000 Hyatt points. The Hyatt Centric and The Eliza Jane in the French Quarter are also 12,000 points per night. I had an early morning flight so would miss breakfast and the Hyatt Place was walking distance to the brewery. So I picked the Hyatt Place.

Pro-tip: If you don’t have Hyatt points you can transfer points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

How to Earn the Miles and Points

The quickest way to earn miles and points to travel hack New Orleans is credit card signup bonuses.

Besides welcome offers, I use creative ways to earn unlimited miles and points.  With those points, I’ve travel hacked Australia not once but twice for a two week Australia trip, a ten day trip to Europe, and the Maldives.

Sixteen airlines fly to New Orleans and several offer co-branded airline credit cards. For this trip, it was cheaper for me to use American Airlines miles.

I used the Citibank AAdvantage card, World of Hyatt card, and Chase Sapphire Reserve card for travel hacking New Orleans.

This table includes those cards and the best travel rewards cards you can use to travel hack a trip to New Orleans.

 Signup Bonus & Minimum Spending RequirementsHow to Use These Miles and Points
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card65,000 points when you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 monthsUse points for flights. You get free flights for up to two years when you earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
Chase Sapphire Preferred100,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your accountUse points for flights, hotel rooms, and activities. When redeemed through the Chase travel portal, points are worth 1.25 cents.
Chase Sapphire Reserve60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your accountUse points for flights, hotel rooms, and activities. Points are worth 1.5 cents when used on the Chase travel portal.
World of Hyatt30,000 points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Use points for free hotel nights. Each year after you earn a free night award.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Card150,000 points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 monthsUse points for free hotel nights. Each year after you earn a free night award.
IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card60,000 points when you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 monthsUse points for hotels. Get the fourth night free when you use points.
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard50,000 points when you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first 3 monthsUse points for free flights.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card100,000 points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 monthsUse points for free hotel rooms.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card75,000 points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months & $200 statement credit on US restaurant purchases in the first 6 monthsUse points for free hotel rooms.
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card75,000 points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months & $150 statement credit on goods and services in the first 3 monthsUse points for free hotel rooms.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card50,000 points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 monthsUse points for free hotel rooms.

Conclusion

With so many airlines and hotels, you can travel hack New Orleans. My trip to the Big Easy should have cost $746.10 but I only paid $167.90.

New Orleans is inexpensive unless you visit during Mardi Gras. So it’s easy to use miles and points when visiting the Big Easy. The quickest way to earn miles and points to get a free trip to New Orleans is through travel rewards credit cards. But do the math because it might make more sense to pay cash than to use miles and points.  

I use miles and points for trips in the US when I can find a great deal like the web special award and reduced miles awards. That way I have more points to travel hack AustraliaEurope, and the Maldives.

Stay tuned for the next part of this series: flights to New Orleans.

What are your tricks and how-tos to travel hack New Orleans?

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Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for beginning travel hackers. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 80,000 points & a $50 statement credit on groceries your first year after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 2X points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.
 


Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of my favorite cards for earning cash back card and travel rewards. It offers a welcome offer of $200 after spending $500 in the first three months.
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 5% cash back at grocery stores the first 12 months (up to $12k), unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and no annual fee. When paired with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can use your points to travel for free.
 

American Express Gold

The American Express Gold is a great card for earning travel rewards from grocery and restaurant purchases It offers a welcome offer of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 4X points at US grocery stores, 4x points at restaurants (including delivery and takeout) worldwide,, $120 statement credit at restaurants, 4x points on UberEats, $120 in UberCash (use for UberEats or rides),3x points on flights booked with the airlines or via amextravel, and 1x point on everything else.  
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Erica

Monday 24th of May 2021

I've always wanted to travel to New Orleans! In fact, all I gotta due is take Pembina Hwy here in Winnipeg and just drive it all the way down! :)

Heather D

Sunday 23rd of May 2021

I have been to NO once. It was a business trip but we managed some fun!

Catalina

Sunday 23rd of May 2021

wow! I am impressed! Only $167.90! I love low cost trips and I am so glad to find out more tips!

Natalia Flores

Sunday 23rd of May 2021

Such great travel tips thanks for the information.

Marysa

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

I have never been to New Orleans. It really sounds like an interesting place to explore. These tips sound like a great way to make the most of planning.

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