Maximizing a Home Renovation — Reader Success Story

Jan 10, 2018

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Kristina, who took advantage of home expenses to earn rewards for a trip to the South Pacific. Here’s what she had to say:

When my husband and I bought our first house — a major renovation project — in 2016, I knew it would be a great opportunity to stockpile rewards and treat ourselves to a more extravagant vacation than usual. With our thirtieth birthdays coming up, I decided we should go to a continent we hadn’t visited yet; we agreed on New Zealand and started applying for credit cards.

As soon as we were out from under Chase’s 5/24 rule, we both got the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card just days before the 100,000-point sign-up bonus ended. I also got a bonus of 50,000 points from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, and we both had anniversary night credits from our IHG cards. With those rewards we managed to take a two-week trip to Tahiti (Mo’orea) and New Zealand for about $1,500 total!

Our Ultimate Rewards points covered flights to Tahiti and back from New Zealand, plus all of our hotels while in New Zealand. After we met the minimum spend requirements on our new cards, I focused spending for our house renovation on the Arrival Plus card so we could redeem those points to offset assorted travel purchases. They ended up covering our flights between Tahiti and New Zealand, a cave abseiling excursion, and our rental car in New Zealand.

The cherry on top of it all was provided by our IHG Rewards. Thanks to our two anniversary nights and 80,000 IHG points I’d been hoarding, we stayed at the InterContinental Mo’orea for four nights in an upgraded suite that would normally cost $750-800 per night. All we had to cover was about $20 in local taxes.

Thanks to a wonderful TPG reader (hey Mike!) and the end of year giveaway of spare systemwide upgrades, we were almost moved to first class on our long flight home. We just missed the cut, but still really appreciated the thought and generosity from both this community and Mike specifically.

Kristina used points and free night certificates for her stay at the InterContinental Mo’orea.

Before you make a major purchase — whether you’re renovating a home, buying a new car or even paying a tax bill — look for ways to use the expense to your advantage. The most lucrative option is to do what Kristina and her husband did: get a credit card with a high-value sign-up bonus and use your purchase to meet the spending requirements. You could also aim for an annual spending bonuses (like elite status or free hotel nights), or simply use a card that yields a good return on each dollar spent. If you’re going to spend the money anyway, you might as well get as much as you can for it.

Kristina’s story demonstrates why the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card is one worth keeping for the long-term. The relatively low $49 annual fee gets you a free night at any IHG property each year, plus automatic Platinum Elite status and a 10% rebate on award redemptions. You won’t always get as much value as Kristina and her husband did at the InterContinental Mo’orea, but it’s not hard to put the free night to good use.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Kristina for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured image by Justin Sullivan via Getty Images.

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