TPG Reader Hall of Fame: A $30,000 vacation for 700,000 points

Dec 13, 2019

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Today’s TPG Reader Hall of Fame story comes to you courtesy of Jessica and her husband, who managed to take three weeks off together for a one-of-a-kind honeymoon around the world. From Vienna to Delhi and Malé to Singapore, these two spent their time in ultra-luxe accommodations and economy seats alike, cleverly using their points to stretch their vacation. Let’s see how they did it.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Ngan.
(Photo courtesy of Jessica Ngan)

As self-professed readers of TPG for the last few years, Jessica and her husband knew exactly how to maximize their points and miles. A combination of limited-time sign-up bonuses, business travel and credit card spend (especially for wedding expenses!) meant that the couple were able to save up hundreds of thousands of points for their honeymoon. Here are the cards they used:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • The World Of Hyatt Credit Card: 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. (They actually used the now defunct SPG Amex, but this is the closest comparison).

Unlike many travelers for whom getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible is key, Jessica and her husband took advantage of some crazy routings to stuff in a few more experiences. Take, for example, their flight from Vienna to Malé, which they flew entirely in business class and stopped in Zurich, Delhi and Trivandrum on the way to the Maldives.

Or, even better, their intentional layovers in both Seoul and Honolulu. “We originally planned to fly direct to San Francisco, but when we looked at flights, we found that United actually had a flight leaving from SIN (Singapore), with an 18-hour layover at ICN (Seoul, South Korea), AND a 12 hour layover in HNL (Honolulu, Hawaii) before flying back to SFO for the same price!  We had never been to Seoul and we love Honolulu so we were sold! This flight cost 200,000 United points + $167.42 in taxes and fees to visit 3 cities! Not bad at all.” 

Photo courtesy of Jessica Ngan.
(Photo courtesy of Jessica Ngan)

Here are the points and miles Jessica and her husband used for their trip (and how much they’re worth based on TPG’s latest valuations):

Program Points Used Current TPG Valuation
United MileagePlus 310,000 1.3
Singapore KrisFlyer 130,000 1.3
World of Hyatt 75,000 1.7
Marriott Bonvoy 250,000 0.8
TOTAL: 765,000

Here’s how they used their points and miles — plus a little cash — for flights:

City AIRLINE Class Cash Value Points Used Comments
San Francisco to Newark United Airlines Economy Plus $302 N/A
New York to Frankfurt Singapore Airlines Business $3,000 130,000 Singapore miles (transferred from Chase)
Vienna to Zurich to Delhi to Trivandrum to Malé Swiss Airlines/ Air India Business $12,000 110,000 United miles
Malé to Singapore Scoot Economy $388 N/A
Singapore to Incheon to Honolulu to San Francisco Asiana Airlines Business $10,000 200,000 United miles (some transferred from Chase)
TOTALS: $25,690 440,000

And here’s how they used points and cash on hotels:

City HOTEL Cash Value Points Used Comments
Frankfurt Moxy Frankfurt $103 N/A
Nuremburg Le Meridien Grand $101 N/A
Prague Augustine, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Prague $1,064 N/A
Vienna Hotel Imperial $1,000 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy
Maldives Park Hyatt Hadahaa $2,000 75,000 World of Hyatt
Singapore JW Marriott South Beach $500 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy
Seoul Grand Hyatt Seoul $175 N/A World of Hyatt card free anniversary night
TOTALS: $4,943 325,000

All together, Jessica and her husband managed to take a $30,000 dollar vacation with roughly $2,000 in cash and under a million points. What a great way to start a marriage!

Featured image courtesy of Jessica Ngan.

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