TPG Reader Hall of Fame: A week at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives and the Middle East in style
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with additional information from the reader. It was originally published on Dec. 6, 2019.
Today’s TPG Reader Hall of Fame story is a truly inspirational vacation. With over a million points spent (and over 200,000 earned), TPG reader Tom pulled out all the stops for his world-class vacation to the Maldives and the Middle East.
Tom has read TPG since 2015 and it shows — not a penny was wasted on this trip. He opened over a dozen travel credit cards, redeemed annual free-night certificates and accomplished a once-in-a-lifetime journey. Let’s see how he did it.
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As a longtime reader, Tom has spent the last five years opening travel rewards credit cards, maximizing everyday spending, referring others to new cards (and thus earning bonuses) and taking advantage of increased earning promotions, such as United’s Mile Play. All told, he’s earned a million points, become a top-tier elite member with both Hilton and United, and managed to take high-value vacations with low out-of-pocket costs.
What did Tom have to say about his bucket-list vacation?
“This itinerary was chosen for a few reasons, but mostly because one of the first TPG articles I read a few years ago talked about how you can take a trip to somewhere magical like the Maldives for free. So take that with my desire to go as big as possible and attain the highest amount of value possible from my points and this trip is what I came up with. Did I also mention this was my girlfriend’s first trip out of the country?
I had originally planned for the Conrad Maldives but when I got wind of the new Waldorf Astoria Maldives opening, I quickly shifted my focus to Hilton’s newest top property in the world and safe to say it did not disappoint. I have been to many of Hilton’s top properties already, including Conrad Bora Bora & Koh Samui, so the bar was set very high. After a week of relaxing in an overwater villa, week two had to be for adventure. Jordan and Egypt have been high on my list and i figured they would be the perfect 49th & 50th country for me to visit, and a great sweet spot for business-class flights from the Maldives — not to mention being able to see a couple wonders of the world up close and personal at Petra & the Pyramids of Giza!”
Here are the cards he used for this trip:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® — Earn 60,000 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.
- Citi Premier℠ Card — Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 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.
- 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.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card– Earn 100,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express– Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- American Express® Green Card– Earn 30,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
The information for the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard and Citi Premier has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Here are the points they spent:
|Program||Points used||Current TPG valuation (cents per point)
|Citi ThankYou Rewards||80,000||1.7|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||200,000||1.4|
Here’s how they used them:
|Flights||City||Name||Class of service||Cash Cost||Points used||Comments|
|Flight||Chicago to Male’||Etihad||Business||$16,000||140,000||American Airlines miles|
|Flight||Male’ to Colombo to Doha to Amman||Sri Lankan, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian||Business||$3,800||60,000||American Airlines miles|
|Flight||Amman to Cairo||EgyptAir||Economy||$440||16,000||United Airlines miles|
|Flight||Cairo to Zurich to Washington, D.C. to Chicago||Swiss Air, United||Economy, Business||$7,000||80,000||Citi ThankYou points at 1.25 cents each|
|Hotels||Location||Name||Cash Cost||Points used||Comments|
|Hotel rewards||Maldives||Waldorf Astoria Maldives||$24,000||600,000||Seven nights- fifth night free, free weekend night certificate from Hilton Aspire|
|Hotel rewards||Petra||Marriott Petra||$350||N/A||Annual free night certificate from Marriott Boundless|
|Hotel Rewards||Dead Sea||Hilton Dead Sea||$250||28,000|
|Hotel rewards||Cairo||Marriott Mena House Cairo||$553||N/A||Used annual statement credit from Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant|
|Hotel rewards||Cairo||Conrad Cairo||$468||30,000|
This is a phenomenal example of the power of points and miles. Great job Tom and thanks for being such a dedicated reader!
Featured photo by Marco Prosch/Getty Images.
- Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 4/1/2020.
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