What’s in Dia’s wallet: How I scored a hat trick the consume of aspects in Panama

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One morning finally of Spring Ruin as I sipped coffee from my resort balcony whereas staring at ships enter the Panama Canal, I wondered why no one appears to be talking about how Panama is an absolute accept as true with shut if you happen to could perchance well perchance most likely be redeeming your miles and aspects. So let’s attain that. 

I susceptible aspects in three assorted ways—a Panama hat trick, if you happen to will—to pay for my plane mark, resort, and actions for my Panama Metropolis outing. Every manner allowed me to salvage outsized price from my aspects, so I’ll wade via them one-by-one so that that possibilities are you’ll well know the diagram the sausage is made. I’m barely of an outlier in that I possess a bigger bank card series than most, but the principles are the same and I am hoping will let you specialise in strategically about how and where you exhaust your laborious-earned aspects.

Trick #1: There could be broad-birth availability on Copa Airways award tickets

Copa Airways is a vastly under-rated Megastar Alliance partner that is based entirely in Panama Metropolis. The airline has a hub-and-spoke route community between North, Central and South The US and serves more cities in the united states than that that possibilities are you’ll well perchance factor in:

Atlanta Fortress Lauderdale Orlando
Austin Los Angeles San Francisco
Baltimore Las Vegas Tampa
Chicago Miami Washington DC
Denver Unique York

Because there are so many gateways, there are moreover so many more alternatives if you happen to could perchance well perchance most likely be procuring for award tickets. Shall we advise, right here’s coach saver availability in October from Baltimore to Panama Metropolis taking a witness on United’s online page:


20,000 United MileagePlus miles in coach for a five-hour flight is a pretty right deal. However a runt bit magic can flip right to massive. Let’s head over to Air Canada’s frequent flyer program, Aeroplan, and watch the same flight on the same date:


That 20,000 miles precise dropped to 12,500. And even better, alternate class on the same flight is handiest 25,000 miles. So for precise 12,500 more miles that that possibilities are you’ll well salvage a cushty seat up front (on a five-hour flight, price each penny), an additional checked secure, and lounge entry. And on some routes, that that possibilities are you’ll well merely even salvage a lie-flat seat. Useless to mutter, that’s the selection I took. For me it modified into once an particularly right deal because even supposing I modified into once traveling finally of Easter week, award tickets on Copa were aloof great. 

To search out this deal, I susceptible one of my favourite instruments of the alternate: The right recordsdata is that via a partnership with Bilt Mastercard®, I modified into once in a put to head looking both United and Aeroplan availability totally free.

To salvage Air Canada miles, I became to my at hand Capital One Mission X Rewards Credit Card card and transferred 50,000 Capital One Miles for a round-outing mark in alternate class. Aeroplan has a ton of switch companions that each switch 1:1, so I moreover will possess susceptible Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, or Breeze Closing Rewards®

You can note in the beautiful print that Air Canada costs a better tax ($79 CAN or $58 USD) vs. United ($5.60) so if no longer spending a penny is your priority, that that possibilities are you’ll well merely aloof are looking to head with United. And United enables you to execute totally free, whereas Air Canada could perchance well merely price a price so defend that in mind as smartly. 

Capital One Mission X Rewards Credit Card

Intro bonus

Accumulate 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases finally of the predominant 3 months from story opening

Annual Payment $395
Bewitch APR 19.99%–29.99% variable
Foreign Transaction Payment None

Rewards Rates
  • 10X 10x miles on resorts and condominium autos booked via Capital One Poke
  • 5X 5x miles on flights booked via Capital One Poke
  • 2X 2x miles on day after day purchases


  • Annual $300 crawl credit and 10,000 Miles upon card anniversary invent up for the annual price
  • Airport lounge entry


  • Capital One Miles require effort to maximise
  • Restricted money redemption alternatives

Other benefits
  • Poke protections including vehicle condominium insurance, outing cancellation/interruption and crawl extend protection
  • Consumer protections including prolonged guarantee and return protection

Learn more

Trick #2: Extra than one aspects capabilities switch 1:2 to Resolution Privileges

Resolution Privileges is the TJ Maxx of resort rewards capabilities. You’d’t lumber in guaranteeing you are going to receive something that fits, but at the same time as you happen to realize you’ll salvage a enormous deal. That’s what took place for me in Panama Metropolis.

Resolution resorts

The Radisson Panama Canal sits smack dab in front of the canal and Easter week went for 8,000 aspects an evening. At the 2nd nights come in for 16,000 aspects per evening. The resort, which at possibility of be a Nation Inn and Suites, is by no diagram luxurious. However it is neat, has a ravishing pool and the aforementioned good reputation for ship-spotting. Ubers are cheap and great so even supposing it’s barely out of the city most Ubers I took were around $5 USD. 

The main sauce for Resolution Privileges is the 1:2 switch ratio from Citi Premier ThankYou Aspects and Autograph aspects. This implies I handiest paid 4,000 Citi aspects per evening for my resort room. And I modified into once even in a put to book an ocean-eye suite because Resolution had both the same previous room and the suite bookable for the same quantity of aspects.

Breeze Sapphire Reserve®

Intro bonus

60,000 bonus aspects after spending $4,000 on purchases in the predominant 3 months from story opening

Annual price $550
Traditional APR 22.49%–29.49% variable

Rewards Rates
  • 10x10x aspects on resorts and vehicle leases if you happen to amass crawl via Breeze Poke℠ without extend after the predominant $300 is spent on crawl purchases yearly.
  • 5x5x aspects on flights via Breeze Poke℠ without extend after the predominant $300 is spent on crawl purchases yearly.
  • 3x3x aspects on other crawl and eating without extend after the predominant $300 is spent on crawl purchases yearly.
  • 1x1x point on all other purchases


  • Generous rewards on crawl and eating
  • Intensive list of switch companions
  • Annual crawl credit


  • High annual price
  • Discipline to Breeze 5/24 rule

  • Additional perks: Airport lounge entry, purchase protection, prolonged guarantee protection, outing cancelation/interruption insurance, auto condominium collision anguish waiver, cell telephone protection, complimentary Doordash and Instacart+ membership along with month-to-month Instacart+ credits
  • Foreign transaction price: None

Learn Extra

Trick #3: Breeze Sapphire Reserve presents 1.5 cents per Closing Rewards point for actions

The Breeze Sapphire Reserve® is my lumber-to card for crawl costs because no longer handiest does it manufacture 3X aspects on crawl (after incomes the $300 crawl credit), it presents complete cancellation insurance and auto condominium coverage. However the Sapphire Reserve’s superpower is that Closing Rewards aspects are price 1.5 cents each if you happen to redeem them on Breeze Poke℠’s jam.

Dia Adams: Breeze Screenshot

I susceptible my Closing Rewards expose book a whopping five actions whereas in Panama—two airport transfers, a walking tour, a cooking class and a catamaran tour. The racy thing I chanced on whereas researching my outing is that if a tour modified into once offered on Viator, I could perchance well perchance receive the actual same tour on Breeze Poke for the same designate. Tours add up and I saved plenty of of greenbacks out of pocket by redeeming aspects in Panama.


The takeaway

I’d possess been extremely cheerful to ranking cheap alternate class award tickets, to snag a deal on an ocean-front suite, or to redeem aspects for actions at an elevated price. The indisputable reality that I chanced on all three for the same outing made for a Spring Ruin that modified into once no longer handiest memorable, but guilt free because my handiest out-of-pocket costs were meals and a Panama hat to purchase residence as a keepsake of my hat trick.

Welcome to What’s in Dia’s wallet. On this month-to-month column I’ll piece what’s, yes, in my wallet but moreover what’s on my mind. After over a decade holding credit playing cards, traveling an realistic of 100 nights a year, and incomes and spending over 1,000,000 aspects each year to realize it, I’ve learned a few things. At the same time as you happen to’ve got gotten questions or solutions for future subject matters please attain out to me at Dia Adams, Senior Editor

Fortune Recommends™ has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of bank card merchandise. Fortune Recommends™ and CardRatings could perchance well merely secure a commission from card issuers. 

Please expose that card runt print are honest as of the post date, but are enviornment to alternate at any time on the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to examine charges, charges, and benefits earlier than making consume of. 

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