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TPG Reader Hall of Fame: Earning a vacation while on vacation

November 15 2019
5 min read
TPG Reader Hall of Fame: Earning a vacation while on vacation
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Today's TPG Reader Hall of fame story comes to you courtesy of Kyle, whose very first award redemption (ever!) with his wife was a huge success. Not only did they fly business and first class from New York to Tokyo and then on to Hawaii, they also earned enough cash and points for an additional vacation along the way.

Let's check out how they did it.

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Photo courtesy of Kyle Parks.
(Photo courtesy of Kyle Parks.)

Kyle and his wife had an incredible time visiting both big cities and tropical beaches — while still managing to swing flights all over the world in the pointy end of the plane.

They used their points for maximum effect to fly Japan Airlines first class and Hawaiian Airlines in business, building their stash of American Airlines Advantage miles with shopping portals, big credit card sign-up bonuses and clever maximization of spend categories. When all that wasn't quite enough, they leveraged an American Airlines buy miles sale to top off their accounts. Here are the cards they used:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® — Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
  • Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®- Earn 60,000 bonus miles and a companion certificate after your first purchase and payment of the annual fee in the first 90 days of opening your account.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card, Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer

Related: How to earn miles with American Airlines AAdvantage

Japan Airlines first class. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Parks.)

Though they chose to pay cash for their hotels over this twelve day trip, they did it with style — by opening a Marriott Premier Plus credit card (closed to new applicants) and earning the sign-up bonus with spend on their stays. Even better, they took the opportunity to complete a Marriott status challenge, which meant they were able to achieve Platinum Elite status by maximizing their vacation days. After all was said and done, they walked away with 266,570 Marriott points to use for a future vacation.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Parks.)

Of course, that's not all they earned. Thanks to an overbooked flight on the way home, Kyle and his wife scored $1,200 each to spend an extra five hours in Hawaii, walking away with a total of $2,400 in flight vouchers. They later put these to good use with round-trip premium economy tickets to Vietnam.

Related: How to redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles

All told, they redeemed 300,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles for their flights. Here's a breakdown of how they spent them:

FlightsCityNameClass of ServicePoints UsedComments
FlightLouisville to New York City (LGA)American AirlinesEconomyN/APaid $120
FlightNew York City (JFK) to Narita (NRT)Japan AirlinesFirst150,000American Airlines miles
FlightNarita to Honolulu to MauiHawaiian AirlinesBusiness105,000American Airlines miles
FlightMaui to Los Angeles to LousivilleAmerican AirlinesEconomy45,000American Airlines miles

Kyle and his wife came out ahead on their vacation, spending a phenomenal twelve days in some of the best first-class seats around and still managing to earn 266,570 points and $2,400. Now that's an amazing redemption!

Featured photo by Photo courtesy of Kyle Parks.
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.