Here’s a way to get to Colombia, Peru, or Ecuador for not much more than $89

Tickets to these parts of South America will normally run anywhere from $800-$1200 each, but dog’gonnit we just can’t stand to actually pay money for flights any more.  One of my first real dives into the Wanderlusting World was a family trip for 6 to Medellin Colombia – a flight that cost us $564… no, not $564 each, but total… for 6 of us.  The reason it was so cheap was because we had only to pay the taxes – the fares were covered by 150k AA miles which we got for signing up for a pair of Citi AAdvantage cards.

While the world of travel credit cards is a little more stingy today, it’s still entirely possible to get to Colombia, or Ecuador or Peru for that matter, on a single credit card application.

Here’s the deal: late last year, a merger between US Airways and American Airlines was approved.  Since that point, it’s been possible to book US Airways flights with AA miles and vice versa.  I have always felt like AA’s award chart (which you can always find on our Using Airline Miles page) is the most generous – particularly when you’re looking at flights to Europe and northern South America. So it makes sense to use those points on AA.

Right now there are cards which offer bonus points for both US Airways and American Airlines, but at some point in the future, expectations are that the Barclaycard US Airways MasterCard, will soon go away.  What that says to me is that people need to get the card while it still exists and is offering a healthy bonus of 30k points.

This is one of the cards that doesn’t waive the annual fee for the first year, so you will have to fork over $89 right off the bat, but the good news is that there’s no minimum spending requirement – you’re awarded the bonus points after the first purchase.

When booking your flight, you’ll have to fly between 1/16 and 6/14 or 9/7-11/11 (when AA’s Saver fares to South America are available). You’ll have to pay some taxes as well, but it’s a small price to pay for a flight that would normally reach four figures.

You could also follow Sheldon’s excellent instructions on how to book a stopover on American Airlines and turn this trip into a 3-destination uber-vacation with stops in a domestic gateway city like LA, Dallas, or Miami, and open-jaw flights into and out of two of these great countries to visit.

As if you needed convincing, now I’ll provide you with some tantalizing details on each of these countries to fuel your urge to make something like this happen… soon.

As always, if you ever have any questions, we invite you to comment below or to read our FAQ page.


We absolutely loved Medellin, but I think you’d be thrilled if you went to Cartagena, or Bogota, too.  Colombia is not the drug-torn world it once was.  When we told people we were taking our family (including 4 kids under the age of 7) to Colombia, so many people looked at us with utter disdain that we finally started telling them we were taking them to Disneyworld.  It was so much less controversial.

But take them to Colombia we did, and what a great time we had.  I’ve written enough about this that if you’re interested in reading more, you’re better off just to see what we’ve written about Colombia.


The great majority of people who go to Peru, go to see Machu Picchu – and for good reason – it’s an incredible place to visit. But if (or when) I go to Peru this fall, it will be for the Great Amazon Raft Race – a three-day race through remote parts of the Amazon on balsa-wood rafts that teams build and race themselves.

Peru is a great place for adventure, but it’s also a great place for history, culture, and food.  You could also go visit the Uros reed islands in Lake Titicaca – the highest navigable lake on earth.


Ecuador has an abundance of wildlife and untouched rain forest that’s ripe for exploration. You’ll have to fly into a big city like Quito or Guayaquil, but get out of there as soon as possible and enjoy what really makes Ecuador unique.

You’ll also want to check “stand on the equator” off your bucket list.  And because we also like getting hotels for free, look into booking a stay at an eco-lodge on or another travel site and get your purchase reimbursed by the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard®.

We hope you enjoyed this idea and we’d ask you to share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for wanderlusting with us.

This entry was posted in Barclaycard, Colombia, South America, US Airways. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Here’s a way to get to Colombia, Peru, or Ecuador for not much more than $89

  1. Sharee Owings says:

    My husband and I both applied and got the Frontier card with the $500 spending requirement. It is through Barclaycard as well. Do you know how many cards I can have through them at one time? How long before I can be approved for another one?

  2. Hey Sharee, thanks for wanderlusting with us!

    I generally like to wait 30 days, though that is not a rule with any of the offerers except Chase.

    I have been approved for 2 Barclays cards in the same day before., and my wife and I each have 3. I don’t think there’s a limit to the number you can have open, just the overall amount of credit they will extend to you.

    We are anxious to hear where you’re going and glad to have you excited about almost free travel.


  3. Pingback: Top 5 Myths About International Travel |

  4. Josh says:

    I just applied for the US Airways card and was approved. I should be receiving the card in the next day or two. After I make my first purchase and receive my points, how do I use these points on the American Airlines website?? THanks Josh

    • Sheldon says:

      Josh- First of all….Congrats! We are excited to hear about how you use the points and the fun memories that it creates for you.

      Next, you should still be able to book the flights on Us Airways’ website, but you will not only see the award availability for US Airways, but it should show you the award availability for American Airlines as well. Please let us know if you have any questions.

      Thanks for wanderlusting with us!

      • Josh says:

        Thanks so much, I can’t wait to get back to my mission stomping grounds. If I can’t figure it out I know where to find you.

      • Josh says:

        I just went to USAirways website, apparently they do not fly to Ecuador, only Columbia and Peru. Can I use these points through the American Airlines website or do they have to be used on USAirways.


        • Sheldon says:

          Josh, You should be able to see all American Airlines flights on the USAirways websites too. The big issues here is that the points from one program can’t be transferred to the other quite yet. American’s award chart requires significantly less miles, so you really need AA miles to book for 30k for the time being. Once they allow the transfer of the points from one program to the other you’ll easily be able to do that. For now you’ll have to find another use for the US Airways miles, or start acquiring some AA miles to book the Northern South America adventure.

          • Josh says:

            I have read on other posts that you can combine points in your wallet, or something like that? If I apply for the American airlines card, can I combine their points and the USairways points in that “wallet” thing you talked about?

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