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OUR BIGGEST POINTS/MILES TRIP EVER
I have been using credit cards points and miles for nearly free travel for years, but this 10 day trip to Japan was by far my biggest points & miles redemption ever.
I booked a mostly luxury trip that would have cost us $35K if we were paying cash. Instead, we paid less than $1200 for ALL of our Japan transportation and hotels!
HOW WE BOOKED IT & WHAT WE PAID
Repositioning flight from Denver – Chicago on Southwest
8,902 Southwest points + $16.80 for three tickets (points + 1 Companion pass used here!)
Money saved: $200
Overnight hotel in Chicago – Hyatt Regency O’Hare
9500 Hyatt points + $0
Money saved: $250
Business class flight on Japan Airlines from Chicago O’Hare to Tokyo (HND)
180K American Airline miles for three people + $16.80 taxes/fees
Money Saved: $17,232
Private transfer from HND airport to Andaz Tokyo
Booked via Klook, $64, paid out of pocket
3 nights at Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills
105K Hyatt points + $0
Money saved: $3304
3 nights at Hyatt Regency Tokyo Bay
(We stayed here to do 1 day at Disneyland Tokyo and 1 day at DisneySea)
$450, paid using our World of Hyatt credit card instead of points, since prices were so low
Nozomi Bullet Train from Tokyo to Kyoto
$308, paid out of pocket, green car (like business class) booked 1 month ahead
1 night Park Hyatt Kyoto
45K Hyatt points + $0
Money saved: $1786
2 nights Hyatt Place Kyoto
24K Hyatt points + $0
Money saved: $1625 (hotel is not usually this expensive, our dates were just very high!)
Airport Bus from Kyoto station to KIX airport (90 minutes from Kyoto)
$40 for 3 people
Business Class flight from KIX to LAX on Asiana Airlines
174K Chase points + $240 taxes/fees for 3 people
Money saved: $10,116
Southwest flight from LAX to Denver
28,246 Southwest points + $16.80 for three tickets (points + Companion pass used here!)
Money saved: $600
Total trip cost for ALL transportation & hotel stays: $35,975
What we actually paid for all transportation & hotel stays: $1153
WHICH POINTS DID YOU USE & HOW?
180K American Airline Miles
394,648 Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to: Hyatt, Southwest, Air Canada
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO GET ENOUGH POINTS FOR THIS?
It’s actually much quicker to accumulate this amount of points than you would think.
For the American Airlines miles, I opened 2 business cards at the start of 2022. At the time, by opening those 2 cards, I received 140K American miles from just the sign up bonuses (sign ups since then have changed, but this will always be the best way to earn large amounts of AA miles).
I knew I’d need 40K more for the tickets, so I used the American Airlines shopping portal to get the extra 40K points I needed for this trip.
For the Chase points: Chase has so many incredible sign up offers and so many ways to earn points via every day spend.
I opened the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card which had a 90K sign up bonus after spending $6K in 3 months. Then I used this card a ton for 5x at office supply stores (hello Amazon gift cards!), 5x on cable, internet & phone (up to $25K annually)
I opened the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card which also had a 90K sign up bonus after spending $6K in 3 months. This card gets 1.5x points on EVERY dollar, so it’s a great card to always have in your wallet.
I used the Chase Shopping portal when they were offering extra points deals.
I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for years. We always order groceries online using this card for 3x back and we use it at restaurants for 3x back. These are two BIG category spends for us, so this card gets used a lot!
When you are looking at two 90K sign up bonuses + being strategic with what card you use for what purchase + you are using shopping portals consistently, it’s really not hard to get 400K Ultimate Reward Points quickly.
IT’S NOT ALL OR NOTHING
For our vacations, we usually use a mixture of points/miles for flights and hotel stays. This trip was almost all points & miles. However, many times we’ll only use points for flights. The most important thing for us is offsetting some of our travel costs and being able to have luxury travel experiences we wouldn’t have if we were paying out of pocket.
How you decide to use your points and miles is completely up to you. We’ve been doing this for years, so accumulating this many points was actually not a huge undertaking, as we are always adding new cards/sign up bonuses/points, etc.
THIS TRIP COULD EASILY BE RECREATED FOR WAY LESS POINTS
We flew business class to AND from Japan and we stayed in 2 very luxurious hotels while there (the Andaz Tokyo & Park Hyatt Kyoto). We really wanted to use our points/miles for a luxury trip. But this trip could be done for WAY less points/miles.
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