This TPG reader has 30 million points and miles — we’re showing him how to use them
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Many people have a bucket list of things they’d do if they won the lottery. But do you know what you’d do if you found yourself sitting on millions of points and miles?
We’ve previously shared our tips on how to redeem 1 million American Express Membership Rewards points and 1 million Marriott points. However, one TPG reader has over 30 million points and miles to burn — 32,194,000 points and miles, to be exact.
TPG reader Jeffrey Smith reached out to us recently for advice on how to redeem his hefty stash of points and miles. He explained that he’s spent an average of over 250 nights a year on the road for the last 30-plus years. He’s taken many special award trips already but still has a ton of points and miles left over. Altogether, the rewards are worth over $400,000 based on TPG valuations.
Sure, he could redeem these points for cash back and gift cards, but he’ll lose a ton of value from his rewards and what’s the fun in that? Here’s how we think he should use them.
Current points balance
Jeffrey and his wife Chris have more than enough points and miles to cover airfare, hotels and even some activities for their round-the-world adventure. In particular, they currently have:
- 6,381,000 Amex Membership Rewards points.
- 85,000 Amex Membership Rewards points (Chris).
- 7,861,000 Hilton Honors points.
- 4,351,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
- 149,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (Chris).
- 19,000 American Airlines Business Extra points.
- 2,209,000 American AAdvantage miles.
- 786,000 American AAdvantage miles (Chris).
- 4,152,000 IHG Rewards points.
- 150,000 IHG Rewards points (Chris).
- 1,132,000 World of Hyatt points.
- 316,000 Choice Privileges points.
- 1,468,000 Radisson Rewards points.
- 968,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
- 402,000 Wyndham Rewards points.
- 215,000 JetBlue TrueBlue points.
- 232,000 JetBlue TrueBlue points (Chris).
- 44,000 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points.
- 359,000 Delta SkyMiles.
- 22,000 Delta SkyMiles (Chris).
- 50,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
- 150,000 Best Western Rewards points.
- 507,000 British Airways Avios.
- 186,000 Ameriprise Rewards points.
Plus, Jeffrey and Chris each have the Southwest Companion Pass, two weeks’ worth of Marriott Bonvoy 35,000-point certificates, 10 Marriott Bonvoy 25,000-point certificates, three Marriott Bonvoy 50,000-point certificates, four 40,000-point IHG anniversary nights and $4,000 in Marriott gift cards.
As you can see, Jeffrey and Chris have done a great job diversifying their rewards strategy, though interestingly, they only focused on one transferable points currency: Amex Membership Rewards. Jeffrey explained that he was able to rack up a significant portion of his points through his many travel credit cards. The cards in his wallet include:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
- The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card (no longer open for applications).
- World of Hyatt Credit Card
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
- JetBlue Plus Card
- Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card
- Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card
The information for the Hilton Aspire card, JetBlue Plus card, and Radisson Premier Visa 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.
With so many points and miles to burn, it would make the most sense for Jeffrey and his wife to book an adventure around the world. And because they are seasoned travelers, we want to include stops in some slightly less popular destinations, such as Turkey and India.
Here’s a sample itinerary we built for them. Jeffrey is from Miami, so that will be their starting point. He also mentioned that they were booked on the inaugural Ritz-Carlton cruise out of Lisbon, Portugal, but it was canceled. So, we thought it’d be fitting to make that the first stop of their trip.
- Miami (MIA) to Lisbon (LIS).
- Lisbon to Barcelona, Spain (BCN).
- Barcelona to Istanbul (IST).
- Istanbul to New Delhi (DEL).
- New Delhi to Singapore (SIN).
- Singapore to Tokyo (HND).
- Tokyo to Los Angeles (LAX).
- Los Angeles to Miami (via IAH).
Their best option would be to book the round-the-world tickets through Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. They can get the KrisFlyer miles they need for these bookings by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards. They’ll get to fly a number of different carriers, including TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines, Singapore Airlines and ANA.
Altogether, this itinerary comes out to about 22,700 miles, well under KrisFlyer’s maximum flight distance of 35,000 miles for round-the-world bookings. Although not all flights will offer first class, for the most comfortable experience on the longer segments, we recommend they still book a first-class ticket. That will come out to 360,000 miles per person, plus any applicable fuel surcharges.
You might be wondering why we didn’t recommend booking through ANA Mileage Club. After all, it tends to be a cheaper option for booking Star Alliance round-the-world tickets and is also a transfer partner of American Express. However, the only way to book premium-cabin awards on Singapore Airlines is through its own KrisFlyer program. If Jeffrey decides to take Singapore out of the itinerary, ANA would be the better bet.
As mentioned, the couple’s first stop will be Lisbon since they were originally supposed to go there for their cruise that got canceled. They can fly there nonstop with TAP Air Portugal in business class (TAP doesn’t offer first class). Once there, the couple has several options for high-end hotels they could book with points.
- InterContinental Lisbon: Rooms at this IHG property typically range between 29,000 and 65,000 points so it could be a good opportunity for Jeffrey to cash in his anniversary reward nights. The hotel is well located, just off Avenida da Liberdade, and the rooms look well kept.
- The Lumiares Hotel and Spa (World of Hyatt Category 6): Posh apartment-style rooms and top-notch service make this one of Lisbon’s highest-rated hotels. Rooms go for 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night, and thanks to the hotel’s affiliation with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, you’ll get perks like free breakfast, early check-in, late checkout and a room upgrade even if you don’t have elite status.
- Memmo Principe Real, Lisbon, a Member of Design Hotels (Marriott Bonvoy Category 5): While not quite as modern, this hotel has a similar vibe to Edition hotels and the rooms even feature a similar fur throw. The hotel also offers an outdoor pool overlooking the city. Rooms range from 30,000 to 40,000 points per night.
- Fontecruz Lisboa, Autograph Collection (Marriott Bonvoy Category 6): While the hotel doesn’t look quite as modern as the Memmo Principe Real, it is Marriott’s highest-category hotel in the city. It stands out for its ideal location right on Avenida da Liberdade. Stays here are a bit pricier at 40,000 to 60,000 points per night.
The InterContinental would be a good opportunity for Jeffrey to redeem his IHG reward night certificates. However, if that didn’t play a factor, I’d say that he’ll have the most enjoyable experience at either The Lumiares or the Memmo Principe Real, depending on his personal tastes and preferences.
Following the stop in Lisbon, Jeffrey and his wife will be headed to Barcelona on TAP Air Portugal in business class (again, TAP doesn’t offer first class). Once in Barcelona, they have a wide selection of properties to choose from available on points.
- Hotel Arts Barcelona (Marriott Bonvoy Category 8): Rooms at the Hotel Arts usually run between 70,000 and 100,000 points depending on the season. Located just off the beach, the Hotel Arts offers sweeping ocean views while still being within walking distance of the city.
- Almanac Barcelona (American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts): While not under a select brand, the Almanac Barcelona offers premium luxury leveraged on points. Only a few blocks from La Sagrada Familia, this stunning property will set Jeffrey and his wife back around 38,000 points (depending on the cash rate). Thanks to the American Express Platinum Card, the couple would also receive guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, daily breakfast for two and more exclusive benefits
- InterContinental Barcelona: Rooms at this IHG property typically go for 70,000 points per night, so it would be a perfect opportunity to use points as this property will often see cash prices well above $500. While this property may not be located in as desirable of a location as the other two properties, it certainly makes up for it in luxury.
The Almanac Barcelona would be a great opportunity for Jeffrey and his wife to take advantage of the Amex FHR program.
After staying in Barcelona, Jeffrey could fly nonstop on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul. After all, Turkish operates this route daily. Once in Istanbul, he could use his hotel points to stay at one or more of these top properties:
- The St. Regis Istanbul (Marriott Bonvoy Category 6): Jeffrey could book a superior street view room using points. However, I expect he might get an upgrade thanks to his Marriott elite status. And he could potentially use the 50,000-point free night awards from his Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card to pay for his stay.
- The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul (Marriott Bonvoy Category 5): Jeffrey could use his Marriott gift vouchers to book a paid rate at this hotel. If his rate is eligible, he could apply one of the Ritz Carlton club-level upgrade certificates that he gets as a perk of his Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card.
- Park Hyatt Istanbul — Macka Palas (World of Hyatt Category 4): Jeffrey can book a spacious-looking standard room for 15,000 points per night. But if he wants to splurge, he could book the Park Terrace Premium Suite (which includes its own Turkish bath) for 30,000 points per night.
- Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus (bookable for 33,000 to 55,000 points per night): The deluxe king room Jeffrey could book as a standard room reward looks adequate. But if he wanted to redeem points for a suite, the upcharge is less than double the cost of a standard award on many dates. However, I expect Jeffrey might also get an impressive upgrade as a Hilton Diamond elite.
If he only wants to pick one, the Ritz-Carlton is appealing since it’s an excellent opportunity to use a club-level upgrade certificate. But Jeffrey and his wife should also consider what part of Istanbul they prefer for their stay. If he decides to redeem Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors points for a standard room award, he’ll want to stay in five-night increments to get a fifth night free on awards.
Jeffrey could also use some of his points and miles to book experiences in Istanbul. For example, he could redeem Wyndham Rewards points for Bosphorus cruises or dinner shows. However, he’ll only get about 0.35 cents per point when doing so — which is far below TPG’s valuation of Wyndham Rewards points at 1.1 cents per point.
When leaving Istanbul, I assume Jeffrey and his wife would fly nonstop on Turkish Airlines to New Delhi. Turkish offers at least one nonstop flight each day on this route. In New Delhi, Jeffrey could use points to stay at any of the following luxury hotels:
- JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity (Marriott Bonvoy Category 5): Jeffrey could book a deluxe room using points. The rooms at this hotel look surprisingly spacious and well designed.
- Andaz Delhi (World of Hyatt Category 3): Jeffrey could redeem 12,000 points per night for a standard room. Or, he could redeem points plus cash to secure a suite for his stay. This hotel is in the same Aerocity area as the JW Marriott.
- ITC Grand Bharat, a Luxury Collection Retreat, Gurgaon, New Delhi Capital Region (Marriott Bonvoy Category 6): Using points, Jeffrey could book a two-room deluxe suite with a terrace and one king bed. If he doesn’t mind staying outside of New Delhi, this all-suite resort with a 27-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus looks appealing.
Jeffrey might want to use some of his Marriott Bonvoy free night awards for his stay. After all, he could book a seven-night stay using free night awards for two nights and redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for five nights to get a fifth night free.
And he could even redeem Hilton Honors points to book experiences in India if he makes his way to Goa or Bengaluru. Currently, he could book a 60-minute massage for two at the Conrad Bengaluru or a four-hour adventure for two to Divar Island in Goa for just 10,000 Hilton Honors points. Multiple low-cost airlines fly nonstop from New Delhi to Goa and Bengaluru, and there are many appealing hotels bookable with points in both cities.
From New Dehli, the couple can fly Singapore Airlines nonstop to Singapore. As mentioned, premium-cabin awards on Singapore are typically harder to book as they’re not available through partner airlines but that won’t be a problem for the couple since they’re booking their ticket through KrisFlyer.
- InterContinental Singapore: Jeffrey can book a standard room at the InterContinental for roughly 60,000 points per night. Rooms at this property look spacious and well designed, with a design that pays homage to Peranakan culture with decked timber flooring and ornate furnishings.
- InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay: Award nights generally price around 70,000 points per night at the second InterContinental hotel in Singapore. This hotel is located in the River Valley district and features more-modern rooms with floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
- Regent Singapore: Jeffrey can spend roughly 50,000 points for a night at the Regent. This hotel puts a more modern spin on luxury and is located outside of downtown, providing a bit more peace and quiet.
Of course, there are other great points options in Singapore too. Jeffrey can redeem 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night to book the Andaz Singapore. Or, the couple can use roughly 50,000 Hilton Honors points to book the Conrad Centennial Singapore. Any of these properties is an excellent choice when visiting one of the world’s most energetic big cities.
Related: 3 ways to do Singapore on points
Next up, the couple can fly direct from Singapore to Tokyo in Singapore Airlines or ANA first class. These are some of the best first-class products in the sky. ANA will fly between Singapore (SIN) and Tokyo Narita (NRT) once daily and Tokyo Haneda (HND) twice daily in early 2022. Singapore currently offers first class on four flights per week to NRT and will offer it daily to NRT and HND starting in April 2022.
Tokyo is home to a few high-end Hyatt properties, including:
- Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills: Located in Toranomon Hills, Tokyo’s lone Andaz property features incredible downtown views with modern rooms and high-end amenities. Jeffrey can book a stay for just 30,000 points per night.
- Park Hyatt Tokyo: Thirty thousand points get Jeffrey and Chris a night at one of the most luxurious hotels in Tokyo. The Park Hyatt brand truly needs no introduction with its history of top-notch service and over-the-top rooms. Plus, Jeffrey can spend 48,000 points per night for a Park Suite for extra space.
- The Tokyo Station Hotel: Jeffrey can book a night at one of Hyatt’s more unusual Toyko properties for 25,000 points per night. The hotel promises stunning views of the Imperial Palace. Plus, the couple can easily hop on a high-speed train at the adjoining Tokyo Station to take a daytrip to other great Japanese cities.
Hilton has a handful of great hotels in Tokyo too. A stay at the luxurious Hilton Tokyo will run the couple 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night early next year, which is a great deal for a hotel in the heart of Shinjuku. The Conrad Tokyo is another great option if the couple wants to stay closer to the water. This hotel can be booked for roughly 80,000 points per night next year.
Following the stopover in Japan, Jeffrey and his wife will head to their final stop in Los Angeles. Our favorite option for this route has to be the beautiful ANA first-class suites. Seats can often go for over $10,000 each way on this route. In Los Angeles, there are also a ton of great redemptions available at a wide range of luxury hotels.
- Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills: One of our favorite Los Angeles hotels, Jeffrey could book a superior two-queen room with a terrace. Los Angeles has a lot of luxury hotels, but few are as modern and conveniently located as the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. Best of all, Jeffrey could use a free night certificate from his American Express Hilton Aspire Card or redeem 95,000 Hilton Honors points for a night at the property.
- The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel (Marriott Bonvoy Category 7): While travel is fun, it is draining even for the most experienced road warriors. If Jeffrey is ready for some stunning sunset views and a nice walk on the beach, then he should set aside 50,000-70,000 points (depending on the time of year) for a night here. This gorgeous Ritz Carlton property can regularly go for over $1,000 in cash so Jeffrey should make sure to book this hotel a few months in advance to be safe.
- JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot (Marriott Bonvoy Category 7): Maybe after that long journey from Tokyo, Jeffrey and his wife are not interested in driving all the way to Beverly Hills or Laguna Beach. The JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot is a great option. The beachfront property is located just steps away from the famous Santa Monica Pier.
Jeffrey has quite a few great options on the final stop on his trip regardless of whether he’d like to enjoy some time at the beach or maybe bathe in a little Beverly Hills luxury. When redeeming, we recommend Jeffrey look for some off-peak rewards at the Marriott Category 7 properties. That way if Jeffrey does happen to have some Marriott 50,000-point free night reward certificates left, he can take advantage while saving a few points for the next adventure.
Becoming a points and miles millionaire might not be as far-fetched as it seems, especially if you’re a small-business owner and can put your expenses on business credit cards. There are even some points millionaires on the TPG team. However, deciding how to spend all these points could be a challenge.
In this guide, we presented one way a TPG reader could redeem some of his 30 million miles for a first-class around-the-world adventure, with stays in top-notch hotels. That said, the reader will still have a hefty amount of miles left over so we might need to help plan a second trip around the world soon. After all, we don’t recommend hoarding points as loyalty programs can devalue their rewards at any moment. Keep in mind, donating your points to charity is also always an option.
How would you use 30 million points and miles?
Additional reporting by Katie Genter, Andrew Kunesh and Ryan Patterson.
Featured photo by yang haixiao/Getty Images.
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