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$400 flights to Fiji — reader success story

Dec. 18, 2019
5 min read
Hilton Doubletree Fiji pool sunset
$400 flights to Fiji — reader success story
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Dorothy, who paired an award flight with a long-haul fare sale:

Fiji has long been on my bucket list, so several years ago I signed up for email notifications from Fiji Airways. In March of 2019, I saw an email advertising fares to Fiji for around $400 per person round-trip! I couldn’t believe it, and I immediately booked flights for myself and my husband out of LAX for a grand total of $790.50. I booked the trip for October to coincide with our wedding anniversary, making the trip even more special.

Then I got to work on getting us to LAX. We had just bought a house and were working on a few home improvement projects, so I didn’t want to spend a ton. I searched on the Citi ThankYou travel portal and found flights on Delta from RDU to LAX via DTW that fit the timing of our flights to and from Fiji. I paid 74,080 Citi ThankYou points for the two of us — flights from RDU to LAX were expensive, so I was happy to use points instead of cash.

My husband and I like to stay in smaller, adults-only resorts, so I emailed the Citi Concierge for a reservation at a resort on one of the Mamanuca Islands. The process was easy and we were able to get a free night using the fourth night free benefit on my Citi Prestige card. Resorts in Fiji can be expensive, but since our flights were so cheap, I didn’t mind splurging some on the resort.

About a month before we were due to leave, I applied for the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card ($250 annual fee rates and fees) to take advantage of the free checked bags and the $100 statement credit, which we received immediately after we bought cocktails on the DTW—LAX flight. As long as all goes to plan, I will earn the welcome bonus in the next couple of months. On the way home, we were able to utilize the Fiji Airways Premier Lounge in Nadi and the KAL Lounge in LAX thanks to the Priority Pass membership from my Citi Prestige® card. This made our time in the airports much more comfortable.

I’m not sure if we will keep the Prestige card next year due to the recent changes, but there is no doubt that we got our money’s worth out of it this year! Fiji was an absolute dream and it was definitely an anniversary to remember. Thanks for helping us take advantage of so many travel perks to augment our inexpensive cash fares!

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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When you see an exceptional fare deal but your travel plans are uncertain, keep in mind that fares to or from the U.S. can either be held for 24 hours or canceled within 24 hours of purchase (depending on the airline). That means you can lock in your flights while you sort out other travel details, and then cancel with no penalty if your plans don't come together. Dorothy smartly bought her tickets to Fiji without delay (since flights can disappear quickly); what remained was to get herself to Los Angeles in order to take advantage of those cheap fares.

If a fare sale doesn't quite align with your travel plans, look for opportunities to fill in the gaps with points and miles. Depending on award rates and availability, redeeming airline miles may have been preferable to booking through Citi in Dorothy's case, since flight awards generally offer better value when cash prices are high. However, booking with ThankYou points at least kept her from having to pay out of pocket for the pricey connection between Raleigh-Durham and Los Angeles. This approach works in reverse too: you can use a cheap cash fare to position yourself for a hard-to-find premium award. Just beware in either case of the risks involved with splitting an itinerary into separate tickets.

Related: How to beat limited award availability once and for all

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Dorothy a 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 info@thepointsguy.com; 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, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected.

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

For the rates and fees of the Delta Platinum Amex card, please click here.

Featured image by Hilton Doubletree Fiji (Photo by Katie Genter / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more