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TPG Reader Hall of Fame: A week at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives and the Middle East in style

Dec. 06, 2019
8 min read
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

</strong>This post has been updated with additional information from the reader. It was originally published on Dec. 6, 2019.

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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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(Photo courtesy of Tom Lonergan.)

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.

(Photo courtesy of Tom Lonergan.)

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!"

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Photo courtesy of Tom Lonergan.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Lonergan.)

Here are the cards he used for this trip:

  • 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.
  • Citi Premier® Card — Earn 80,000 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. 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.​ Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership. Terms Apply.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express- Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
  • American Express® Green Card- Earn 45,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership. Terms Apply.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum, Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, Hilton Aspire card, Amex Green 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.

(Photo courtesy of Tom Lonergan.)

Here are the points they spent:

ProgramPoints usedCurrent TPG valuation (cents per point)
United MileagePlus16,0001.3
Citi ThankYou Rewards80,0001.7
Hilton Honors658,0000.6
American Airlines AAdvantage200,0001.4

Here's how they used them:

FlightsCityNameClass of serviceCash CostPoints usedComments
FlightChicago to Male'EtihadBusiness$16,000140,000American Airlines miles
FlightMale' to Colombo to Doha to AmmanSri Lankan, Qatar Airways, Royal JordanianBusiness$3,80060,000American Airlines miles
FlightAmman to CairoEgyptAirEconomy$44016,000United Airlines miles
FlightCairo to Zurich to Washington, D.C. to ChicagoSwiss Air, UnitedEconomy, Business$7,00080,000Citi ThankYou points at 1.25 cents each
HotelsLocationNameCash CostPoints usedComments
Hotel rewardsMaldivesWaldorf Astoria Maldives$24,000600,000Seven nights- fifth night free, free weekend night certificate from Hilton Aspire
Hotel rewardsPetraMarriott Petra$350N/AAnnual free night certificate from Marriott Boundless
Hotel RewardsDead SeaHilton Dead Sea$25028,000
Hotel rewardsCairoMarriott Mena House Cairo$553N/AUsed annual statement credit from Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant available on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
Hotel rewardsCairoConrad Cairo$46830,000

This is a phenomenal example of the power of points and miles. Great job Tom and thanks for being such a dedicated reader!

Featured image by Getty Images
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.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023