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How We Use Points to Fly Business Class as a Family

Today, I’m diving into a topic near and dear to my heart: traveling in style for less. But this isn’t budget travel – we’re talking about soaring through the skies in style with the whole family, courtesy of credit card points.

Over the past two years we’ve flown in business class with seven airlines to over 10 countries with my toddler. We try to use miles and points whenever possible so that we’re able to just pay taxes and fees. Here’s everything to know about flying business class (and staying in fancy resorts) as a family on points:

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Flying Business Class as a Family

flying with a baby in business class

Now, I know what you’re thinking – business class? With kids? Isn’t that a bit extravagant? But hear me out. When you’re facing a long-haul flight with little ones in tow, a little bit of extra comfort can go a long way. And thanks to the magic of credit card points, it’s more accessible than you might think.

These are all the benefits you get with flying business class:

  • More space: International business class seats are typically lay-flat with a much wider seat berth. Some airlines like Singapore or Qatar even have the ability to create a double bed with two seats (depending on aircraft)! There’s also more than enough overhead bin space.
  • Better food: Not only is the food better, it’s standard that you can order hot snacks throughout the flight on demand (we’ve been able to do this on Japan Airlines, ANA, Singapore, Emirates, and Cathay Pacific).
  • More amenities: Business class typically comes with nicer pillows, blankets, ear plugs, eye masks, and toothbrushes, among other amenities. If you need more, you can almost always be accommodated.
  • Lounge access: I can’t tell you how much we value airport lounges with a baby/toddler. There’s free food, a quieter place to relax, and nicer bathrooms.
  • Personalized service: Although we’ve had wonderful service in coach as well, there are fewer customers to flight attendants in business and first class, which means more service as you need it.
  • Privacy: Some airlines offer sliding doors and more of a pod-like experience on their flights. Regardless, most business class seats offer more privacy than economy seats. This is so helpful for nursing or pumping moms.

That said, earning points can also be great for flying economy, and they will go a lot farther. If you have a larger family, it’s much easier to see mileage availability for more than 2-3 economy seats than it is business class, which often only has 1-4 available for miles. For example, we scored 3 seats for a total of 90k miles on United when we flew economy home from our Africa safari to the west coast of the US – one of the world’s longest journeys. There weren’t any good business miles deals at the time, so this worked great for us. Also keep in mind that lap infants will cost 10% of the listed adult fare when flying internationally, which can be hundreds of dollars in business or first class, regardless of whether or not you used points for the adult fare.

How to Earn Points

best places to travel with a baby
At Six Senses Koh Yao, which you can book with credit card points!

First things first, let’s talk strategy. Building up a stash of credit card points takes planning and patience, but trust me, it’s worth it. We started by signing up for travel rewards credit cards that offered generous sign-up bonuses and earning rates on everyday spending. From groceries to gas, we put everything on our credit cards and paid off the balance in full each month to avoid interest charges.

Here are my current favorite cards:

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card:

The current Welcome Offer is 75,000 points when you sign up through this referral link and spend $4000 in the first 3 months. I like this card since they offer 2x points for spending in ANY category, which makes the points come in much faster. It also includes lounge access at select airports (which is only 3 right now, but growing) and though the annual fee is $375, you can receive a $300 statement credit when you book hotels or flights through their travel portal. This is the card I use for everyday spending.

Platinum Card® from American Express

This is one of the absolute best travel cards out there for people who are on the road a lot. Plus, they’re currently offering an 80,000 mile signup bonus. I love the included lounge access (both Centurion and Priority Pass lounges), and the hotel perks at higher end hotels when booking through their travel portal. The annual fee is high at $695 (see Rates and Fees), but if you use the card right, which I’m about to explain, it can pay for itself.

To make the fee worth it, you can use it to get reimbursed up to $100 for Global Entry (yes, even babies need it!) and TSA Precheck, as well as a $200 credit on Fine Hotels and Resorts booked through Amex, a monthly Walmart+ credit that covers the monthly service fees (we love this perk!), $15 Uber credit, up to $240 digital entertainment credit (includes Disney+), and up to $200 airline credit – pick an airline for the year and checked bags and other fees up to $200 will be refunded.

The biggest downside is they no longer allow complementary guests in Centurion lounges. Kids over 2 cost $30 and adults cost $50, which is kind of ridiculous. We get around the adult fee by adding Garrett as a cardholder on my account ($175 annual fee) and paying for Felix on the occasion that we do use the lounge. I keep the card around because I love the 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines and the access to cheaper business class flights through their travel portal when we pay for business class flights with money instead of miles.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

If you have a business (includes freelancers or anyone who has a side hustle!) business credit cards often have the best welcome offers and lower fees. The Welcome Offer on the Ink Business Preferred is currently a whopping 100,000 points when you spend $8000 in the first 3 months. They offer 3x points on travel, shipping, internet and phone, and digital advertising costs. For anyone who runs Facebook, Instagram, Google, or TikTok ads, this is huge. Their other cards offer up to $1000 cash back.

Here’s what I love about it:

  • 3x points on all travel nomatter how you book it (I use this card for any hotels or Airbnbs/vacation home rentals).
  • 3x points on social media and search engine ad spending.
  • Low annual fee of only $95.

IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card

It’s absolutely worth getting a hotel credit card for the chain you’re most loyal to, whether that’s Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, or my personal favorite, IHG. Their suite of brands is great, including the more affordable Holiday Inns (great for quick airport overnights), and higher end Six Senses 5-star resorts and Intercontinental hotels, like the ones in Tahiti or Bora Bora.

When you use the card to book such hotels, you can get a whopping 26x points per dollar spent, plus 5x at gas stations, on other travel, and dining. There’s currently a 165,000 Welcome Offer and up to four free nights available on points after spending $3000 in the first three months and only a $99 fee. IHG also regularly offers ways to double points when you opt in.

Airline Branded Credit Cards

I usually prefer to earn points that can be transferred to a range of airlines so that I can get the best possible deal, but depending on your desires, it may make sense to get an airline branded credit card. Some airlines offer great deals and Welcome Offers from time to time, and this page has the best current airline cards for your perusal.

How to Use Points for Bookings

singapore airlines with a baby review

As the points started rolling in, we focused on maximizing their value by strategically redeeming them for flights or hotels. One of the best ways to stretch your points is by booking flights directly with the airline by using the 1:1 transfer option with your credit card. Keep in mind that not every airline is partnered with every card (Chase has United while AMEX has Delta, for example), and you’ll want to do some searching to make sure you’re finding the best deal. This is how I do it:

  • Use Google Flights to see which airlines fly to my desired destination.
  • Sign up for the mileage programs for the best flights to see what the mileage required is for that airline. Typically you must be a member (free) to view mileage prices.
  • OR search on a paid service like point.me, which gives you the points needed for various airlines for your destination.
  • Play around with dates and departure or arrival airports to get better deals.
  • Google the airline and aircraft for the flight I’ve identified and read reviews about the business class (make sure it’s a fully reclining seat!)
  • Initiate transfer to airline, then book directly with airline.

Important Things to Know

Of course, booking business class flights with credit card points isn’t without its challenges. Award availability can be limited, especially during peak travel times, so flexibility is key. We’ve had to be willing to adjust our travel dates and destinations to find the best deals. For example, for an upcoming Europe trip, I played around with arrival airports and found Oslo was far fewer points than Copenhagen, even on the same airline, and we’ve moved around dates to get saver fares with Singapore Airlines for our trips to Bali and Thailand, but in the end, it’s well worth the effort.

Keep in mind these cards require near perfect credit scores for approval, and if you’re looking to make a big purchase like a home, you may want to hold off since opening cards has a brief impact on one’s credit score.

And let’s not forget about the importance of responsible credit card usage. While credit card points can be a powerful tool for travel hacking, it’s crucial to use them wisely and avoid racking up debt in the process. We made sure to budget carefully and pay off our credit card balances in full each month to avoid interest charges – after all, the points aren’t worth it if you’re paying for them in the long run. It’s also important that you know you can meet the minimum spend to get the Welcome Offer just with normal spending. Don’t buy extra or overextend yourself just to get the points. I like to wait until I have a big purchase coming up to open a card with a higher minimum spend for this reason.

Although it takes some time and effort, it’s been so worth it to find ways to fly more comfortably as a family. I hope this post helps you to do the same!

Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included on this website.

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