TPG Reader Hall of Fame: The ultimate luxury vacation
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Today’s TPG Reader Hall of Fame story comes to you courtesy of Tom, who took the ultimate bucket-list vacation with his wife — an ultra-luxury 11 days spent on board some of the finest cabins and in the fanciest hotels around the world. Let’s see how they did it.
Tom and his wife splashed out for a high-end vacation at one of our favorite properties — the Conrad Maldives — combined with some truly incredible nights at the Conrad Singapore and the JW Marriott Dubai.
To swing this they applied for a number of credit cards, including:
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card — Earn 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare; from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) when you make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve — Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
- Chase Freedom — (No longer open to new applicants) Earn a $150 bonus (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
- The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card — Earn 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card — Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. Terms apply.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card — Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases made on your new card at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
They also spent five years accumulating a truly impressive 200k+ United miles via actual butt-in-seat flying, in addition to frequent use of the United MileagePlusX app and bonuses from rental cars. This enabled them to fly EVA Air’s phenomenal business-class product for the long journey from San Francisco to Singapore.
As if that weren’t amazing enough, they also snagged United saver-award space on Singapore Airlines for the flight from Singapore to Male, and even better, cashed in their Alaska Airlines miles (earned via welcome bonuses, flying and shopping portal bonuses) for flights from Male to San Francisco (with a free stopover in Dubai) in Emirates first class:
All told, they spent just under 800,000 points for flights and hotels. If that seems suspiciously low to you, that’s because it is. Tom and his wife are no newbies, and they managed to squeeze incredible value from travel rewards credit card perks to extend their stay. Using the annual free weekend night offered by the Hilton Honors Aspire Card they both applied for, and a third free weekend night earned by spending $15,000 on the Hilton Honors Surpass Card, they managed to stay five whole nights while spending only 190,000 points. That’s an incredible redemption, especially at a hotel that regularly goes for more than $1,000 per night.
They also used the annual statement credits offered by the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to pay for the JW Marriott in Dubai, turning their cash stay (which earned them bonus points and elite credits) into a completely free affair.
Here’s the breakdown of the points they spent:
|Program||Points used||Current TPG valuation in cents per point
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||43,000||2.00|
Here’s how they redeemed them:
|Flights||City||Airline||Class of service||Points used||Comments|
|Flight||San Francisco to Singapore||EVA Air||Business||180,000||United Airlines miles|
|Flight||Singapore to Male’||Singapore Airlines||Business||100,000||United Airlines miles|
|Flight||Male’ to Dubai to San Francisco||Emirates||First||300,000||Alaska Airlines miles|
|Paid hotel||Singapore||Conrad Centennial Singapore||N/A||Out of pocket $1,455 (four nights)|
|Hotel reward||Maldives||Conrad Maldives Rangali||190,000||95,000/night (two nights)|
|Credit card rewards||Maldives||Conrad Maldives Rangali||N/A||Covered with Aspire and Surpass free weekend nights (three nights)|
|Credit card rewards||Dubai||JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai||N/A||Covered with the Bonvoy Brilliant annual statement credits (two nights)|
Tom and his wife put together a truly memorable vacation, from their awe-inspiring Emirates redemption to the five nights in their overwater bungalow. And clever use of hotel credit cards, dedicated mileage earning and credit card welcome bonuses meant that this high-end vacation was nearly free. Inspirational!
Featured photo courtesy of Tom Ainsworth.
Updated on 11/3/21.
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