TPG Reader Hall of Fame: A month of luxury down under
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Today’s TPG Reader Hall of Fame story comes to you courtesy of Kevin, who spent an entire month visiting Australia, New Zealand and Singapore while still managing to log 30,000 butt-in-seat miles. Let’s check out how he did it.
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Kevin spent years accumulating the points required for his trip, using a variety of methods in order to earn the massive 535,000 points required to make his holiday happen. This included tons of actual flying, spend on credit cards, and welcome bonuses. Here are the cards he used:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card– Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- United Explorer Card– Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card– Earn 130,000 bonus points after you use your card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express– Earn 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Kevin’s clever mix of business, first and economy flights means that he was able to fly nearly 30,000 total miles for just 235,000 miles out of pocket. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he swung the lengthy San Francisco — Sydney — Auckland legs of his flight in economy, which he snagged for just 40,000 United Airlines miles. In contrast, he spent 80,000 United miles for his Melbourne — Los Angeles — San Francisco return. Perhaps his best redemption, though, was his phenomenal Singapore — Bangkok — Sydney routing in Thai Airways first and business class, which afforded him eleven hours in top-notch first class for 65,000 United Airlines miles.
All flights aside, he spent a total of 26 days in high-end hotels, nearly all of them in Hilton properties. He took full advantage of the Hilton Diamond elite status afforded by his Aspire card to gain access to room upgrades, executive lounge access and tons of free drink vouchers.
Even better than that? He spent 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards, transferred to Hyatt, for a fantastic room at possibly my favorite hotel ever: The Park Hyatt Sydney. A cash upgrade to his award netted him this view:
Here are the total points he spent:
|Program||Points used||Current TPG valuation (cents per point)
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||60,000||2|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||50,000||1.4|
Here’s how he spent them:
|Flights||Cities||Name||Class of service||Points used||Comments|
|Flight||San Francisco to Sydney to Auckland||United Airlines||Economy||40,000||United Airlines miles|
|Flight||Christchurch to Auckland to Perth||Air New Zealand||Economy||N/A||Free with United Excursionist perk|
|Flight||Perth to Singapore||Qantas||Economy||30,000||American Airlines miles|
|Flight||Singapore to Bangkok to Sydney||Thai Airways||Business and first||65,000||United Airlines miles|
|Flight||Sydney to Melbourne||Qantas||Business||20,000||American Airlines miles|
|Flight||Melbourne to Los Angeles to San Francisco||United Airlines||Business||80,000||United Airlines miles|
|Hotel rewards||Auckland||Hilton Auckland||N/A||Free night award via Hilton Surpass|
|Hotel rewards||Singapore||Conrad Centennial Singapore||240,000||Fifth night free|
|Hotel rewards||Sydney||Park Hyatt Sydney||60,000||Chase UR transferred to Hyatt|
|Hotel paid||Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Christchurch||N/A||N/A||Paid 17 nights total|
These redemptions show how mixing points and miles with cash can really make your vacation stretch, even in high-end hotels and the pointy end of the plane. Great job, Kevin!
Featured photo courtesy of Kevin Lew.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.