TPG Reader Hall of Fame: $145,000 worth of vacations for 5.3 million points

Jan 10, 2020

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Today’s incredible TPG Hall of Fame story comes to you courtesy of Tom, who went all-in on the points and miles game with his wife to earn and redeem an whopping 5.3 million points over the last couple of years.

We mean it when we say these two have got it going on: From bucket-list stays in the Maldives to incredible uses of hotel free-night certificates, Tom and his wife are the ultimate vacation inspirations. Let’s check out what they did.

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(Photo courtesy of Tom Savage.)

A self-professed TPG nut, Tom (and his wife) used a mix of credit card welcome bonuses, travel and spending to earn their points. Here are the cards they used:

The information for the Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card, 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.

Related: The best travel credit cards

Image courtesy of Tom Savage.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Savage.)

If you’re thinking this is an insane amount of points and traveling, you’re right. After years of making their way around the world, Tom and his wife have a lot of travel tips and tricks to share:

  • Book as far in advance as possible — 48-50 weeks when possible — as you can usually cancel for free with status — this yields the lowest points/ miles and best availability.
  • Show the utmost respect to everyone who works on planes and hotels from front desk person to GM. Get to know them. It pays off and it’s the right thing to do. If there’s a service issue, handle it professionally and with respect.
  • Get off the beaten path to experience the real country as locals do.
  • Talk to locals but more importantly listen to them.
  • La dolce vita.
  • Take time to do the special things in each place that are a fit for you. In Venice for us, get out on the water into the lagoon; in Maui, in or on the water or into nature; in Greece, out on a catamaran or the seven-mile Santorini hike, etc.

Related: How far in advance can you book a flight?

Here are the points they used:

Program Points or miles used Current TPG valuation (cents per point)
Chase Ultimate Rewards 30,000 2
Marriott Bonvoy 4,140,000 0.8
United Airlines 749,000 1.3
Hilton 380,000 0.6
Total points and miles used 5,299,000
Here’s how they used them for flights:
Flights City Name Class of service Cash value Points used Comments
Flights Denver-San Francisco-Singapore-Denpasar-Singapore, Male’-Singapore-San Francisco-Denver United, Singapore Business

$20,000

159,000

United Airlines miles (open-jaw ticket). Used Excursionist perk for free stop in Bali.
Flights Singapore-Male’ Singapore Economy

$1,000

30,000

Chase Sapphire Reserve (flight takes place in between open-jaw ticket above)
Flights Denver-Chicago-Rome United Economy

$2,000

60,000

United Airlines miles
Flights Venice-Frankfurt-Denver United Economy

$2,000

60,000

United Airlines miles
Flights Denver-Washington D.C.- Geneva-Herklion United Economy

$2,000

60,000

United Airlines miles
Flights Mykonos-London-Denver United, Lufthansa Economy

$2,000

60,000

United Airlines miles
Flights Denver-Kahului United Economy

$1,200

45,000

United Airlines miles
Flights Kahului-Denver United Economy/businsss

$3,000

45,000

United Airlines miles
Flights Denver-Tocumen-Lima, Cusco-Lima-Quito-Tocumen-Denver Copa, Avianca Business

$5,000

140,000

United Airlines miles. Used Excursionist perk for free stop in Quito.
Flights Lima-Cusco Avianca Business

$500

N/A Paid cash
Flights Denver-Frankfurt-Santorini, Athens-Venice, Florence-Frankfurt-Denver Lufthansa, United Economy

$5,000

120,000

United Airlines miles. Used Excursionist perk for free stop in Venice/Florence.
Totals

$43,700

779,000

And here’s how they used them for hotels:

Hotels Location Name Cash value Points used Comments
Hotel Nusa Dua St. Regis Bali

$4,500.00

240,000

5 nights
Hotel Singapore JW Marriott Singapore

$600

N/A 3 nights (cash)
Hotel Maldives St. Regis Maldives

$25,000

680,000

10 nights
Hotel Rome St. Regis Rome

$5,000

240,000

5 nights
Hotel Perugia N/A

$400

N/A 2 nights (cash)
Hotel Orvieto N/A

$450

N/A 2 nights (cash)
Hotel Pienza La Bandita Townhouse

$2,000

240,000

5 nights
Hotel Siena Hilton La Bagnaia

$500

N/A 2 nights (used free night certificates from Hilton Surpass)
Hotel Florence St. Regis Florence

$5,000

240,000

5 nights
Hotel Venice Gritti Palace

$7,500

240,000

5 nights
Hotel Crete Domes, Marriott

$2,500

240,000

5 nights
Hotel Santorini Mystique, Luxury Collection

$6,000

240,000

5 nights
Hotel Paros N/A

$600

N/A 2 nights (cash)
Hotel Mykonos Santa Marina Luxury Collection

$5,000

240,000

5 nights
Hotel Wailea, Maui Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria

$9,800

380,000

7 nights (including two free night certificates from Hilton Surpass)
Hotel Wailea, Maui Marriott Resort

$3,500

200,000

5 nights
Hotel Kaanapali Westin Nanea Villas

$1,400

N/A 2 nights (used free night certificates from Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant)
Hotel Maui Courtyard

$900

N/A 2 nights (used free night certificates from Marriott Chase Visa)
Hotel Lima AC Hotel by Marriott Lima Miraflores

$200

N/A 1 night (cash)
Hotel Cusco JW Marriott Cusco

$1,000

N/A 2 nights (used free night certificates from Marriott Chase Visa)
Hotel Urabamba, Peru Tambo Del Inka

$3,000

240,000

6 nights (used free night certificate from American Express Bold)
Hotel Quito, Ecuador Hilton Colon Quito

$170.00

1 night (cash)
Hotel Ecuador Mashpi Lodge

$4,000

N/A 3 nights (cash)
Hotel Quito, Ecuador JW Marriott Hotel Quito

$170

N/A 1 night (cash)
Hotel Santorini Vedema, Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini

$2,500

240,000

5 nights
Hotel Santorini Mystique, Luxury Collection

$6,000

340,000

5 nights
Hotel Naxos N/A

$750

N/A 3 nights (cash)
Hotel Mykonos Santa Marina Luxury Collection

$6,000

280,000

5 nights
Hotel Athens Hilton Athens

$750

N/A 3 nights (cash)
Hotel Venice JW Marriott Venice

$3,600

240,000

6 nights
Hotel Florence St. Regis Florence

$2,500

N/A Comped stay due to services issues May 2019
Totals

$111,290

4,520,000

We have no words. Amazing job, Tom!

Feature photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/ The Points Guy.

For the rates and fees of the Amex Hilton Aspire, please click here.
For the rates and fees of the Amex Hilton Surpass, please click here.
For the rates and fees of the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant, please click here.

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
  • No delivery fees for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with a DashPass subscription from DoorDash -over a $100 value. Activate with your Chase Sapphire card by December 31, 2021.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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