The goal of this blog is to show how a regular person with a job can afford to jet set on a grand level. Well, time to prove, as I showed in Part 1. In this post, I will detail exactly the miles, points and dollars required for my next vacation.
Now, that I have laid out the individual costs, here are the totals.
Total flight costs: $23,000+
Total hotel costs: $6200+
That’s over $29,000. I didn’t even spend a quarter of this! Keep reading!
1) The JFK-Paris, Paris-Koh-Samui and Tokyo-Seattle-DC flights cost me 135,000 United miles and $225 in ancillary fees and taxes. In return, I received $21,000 in flight value.
I earned these United miles from day-to-day and manufactured spending and sign-up bonuses on the Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase United Explorer credit cards, as well as flying to California twice and Istanbul once on United and Star Alliance flights. The Sapphire Preferred signup bonus was 50,000 (now 40,000) Chase UR points, which are transferrable to United. The United Explorer signup bonus was 55,000 United miles. The rest of the balance – 30,000 miles – was earned from spending. The Freedom never has an annual fee, while both the Explorer and Sapphire Preferred cards have annual fees of $95 starting the second year of card membership. Since this is my first year of having the Explorer, but second possessing the Sapphire Preferred, I will add $95 to the cost of these flights.
2) The Conrad hotel stays were technically free, as all were booked on either entirely on Hilton points or Hilton free night awards earned from the Citi Hilton Gold, Citi Hilton Visa Signature, Citi Hilton Reserve and Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines (when transferred from my Hawaiian Airlines account to my Hilton account at a 1:2 ratio) credit cards. I earned 2 free weekend night (Fri-Sun) certificates from the signup bonus on the Hilton Reserve and an additional 2 nights from Citi after Hilton dramatically devalued the award chart. That paid for the Conrad Koh Samui. The Hilton Gold and Hilton Visa Signature credit cards each had a 50,000 point signup bonus, so they paid for 2 nights at the Conrad Tokyo. The third night there was from points earned from transferring 35,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles (earned as the signup bonus on my Hawaiian Airlines credit card) into 70,000 Hilton points. The total cost in points for the Conrad Tokyo was 150,000 Hilton points. In terms of annual fees, the Gold and Visa Signature cards have none, the Hilton Reserve‘s is $95 and the Hawaiian Airlines‘s is $75. So, add $170 to the cash outlay.
3) The Marriott stay was paid for with 50,000 points from my Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature credit card, as the Marriott was originally a Radisson Blu hotel (Radisson Blu is a chain within the Club Carlson hotel portfolio and is well known in Asia and Europe, but not the U.S). Club Carlson offers a pay for one night with points and get the second one fee option, so that’s how I was able to pay for two nights using the points for only one night. The signup bonus on the Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature card was 50,000 points. The annual fee for the card is $50.
4) The Bangkok to Tokyo via Hong Kong flights were paid for with 35,000 British Airways Avios (BA’s term for miles) and $73 in fees. I had earned over 130,000 Avios with my Chase British Airways credit card through the 100,000 Avios signup bonus and spending, so it was an easy transfer. The annual fee for the credit card is $95.
Total extra costs due to credit card annual fees: $95 + $170 + $50 + $95 = $410
Now, I have to add in the costs of the one flight I purchased in cash, the Koh Samui to Bangkok leg, for $159.
$410 + $159 = $569
Add this number to the fee cost in bullet 4, which was $73.
$569 + $73 = $642
Add this number to the cost of fees and taxes from bullet 1, which was $225.
$225 + $642 = $867
Instead of spending $29,000+, I spent $867. That’s 3% of the real cost. 3%!!
I encourage you to read this post and figure out how to manage your credit effectively to earn miles and points, so you can explore, too!
If you have questions, email me windowseatwindowsuite (at) gmail or tweet me (at) WindowSuite, and I hope to answer them. Thanks!