TPG Reader Hall of Fame: The ultimate luxury vacation

Oct 25, 2019

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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.

Photo courtesy of Tom Ainsworth.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Ainsworth)

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.

Photo courtesy of Tom Ainsworth.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Ainsworth)

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) after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • 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 — 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 150,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership plus, a $100 Statement Credit after your first purchase on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 12/31/2019. Terms apply.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card — Earn 75,000 Marriott points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.

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.

(Photo courtesy of Tom Ainsworth.)

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.

Photo courtesy of Tom Ainsworth.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Ainsworth)

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.

Photo courtesy of Tom Ainsworth.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Ainsworth.)

Here’s the breakdown of the points they spent:

Program Points used Current TPG valuation in cents per point
United Airlines 237,000 1.30
Alaska Airlines 300,000 1.80
Hilton Honors 190,000 0.60
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

 

Hotels Location Name Points used Comments
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.

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

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.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 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, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
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Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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Excellent/Good

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