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One of the best ways to use miles & points is to make unforgettable memories with loved ones. And even better if you include once-in-a-lifetime experiences most folks normally wouldn’t be able to afford.
Million Mile Secrets team member Keith recently returned from a 25,000 mile around-the-world honeymoon to Amsterdam, Cape Town, Dubai, Bali, and Singapore. I’ll let him tell you about it!
Keith: Thanks Daraius! My wife Liz and I built up hundreds of thousands of miles from credit card sign-up bonuses and bank promotions that we used to visit 5 countries on an around-the-world honeymoon.
Due to work commitments, we only had 17 days to circle the globe. This might not seem like enough time for such a trip. But, I’ll explain how we made the most of our time and enjoyed a romantic dinner at one of Amsterdam’s top restaurants, rest and relaxation in Bali, a beautiful hike and Afternoon Tea in Cape Town, cultural experiences in Dubai, and much more!
I’m happy to share how I paid ~$6,700 for a trip with a retail cost of ~$53,000!
Around-the-World Honeymoon Trip Series:
- Part 1 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Introduction & Planning
- Part 2 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Booking Flights
- Part 3 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Booking Hotels
- Part 4 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Making Airports More Enjoyable
- Part 5 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Highlights of Amsterdam, Cape Town, Dubai, Bali, and Singapore
- Part 6 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Tips to Book YOUR Trip!
We used miles & points for 5 Business Class and First Class award flights and stays at 5-star hotels. And, we had help from my mother-in-law who is a travel consultant and recommended hotels in each country. We also took advantage of credit card concierge services to book excursions and restaurant reservations along the way.
Although many of our flights were long (9+ hours), flying Business Class made our trip efficient and unforgettable. There was no time wasted in airports or waiting for our bags. And, we didn’t experience any flight delays! While traveling between countries, we enjoyed perks like:
- Airport lounges with complimentary champagne and showers
- Expedited airport security and immigration screening
- Free chauffeur services to and from the airport
- Lie-flat beds on the planes to sleep comfortably
- Priority baggage check with extra weight allowance
6 Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses That Made Our Trip Possible
Because my wife and I take our credit scores and financial health very seriously, we did tons of research before applying for miles and points earning credit cards. There are many myths associated with applying for credit cards and the impact to your credit score.
Actually, since we started in the points hobby 18 months ago, our credit scores have both increased above 800! We pay our accounts in FULL each month and have never carried a balance. And, we’re careful to only apply for credit card offers that help our travel and financial goals. We do NOT just apply for every credit card offer that’s available daily.
To take advantage of the best credit card offers, Liz and I submit separate applications, so we can each earn the sign-up bonus. And we usually send each other referral links to earn easy extra bonus points. I’ll explain more about this later in the series.
Liz and I also qualify for small business credit cards because we regularly sell items on eBay and Amazon for profit. This helps us accumulate more miles and points!
Here are the 6 credit cards that made our honeymoon possible. Note, some sign-up bonuses were only available for a limited time and have since expired. Check here for a list of current available sign-up bonuses.
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points per person or 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points total|
|Chase Ink Plus||60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per person or 120,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points total|
|The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express||50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points per person or 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points total|
|The Platinum Card from American Express||100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points per person or 200,000 American Express Membership Rewards points total|
|Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express||25,000 Starwood points per person or 50,000 Starwood points total|
|Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express||25,000 Starwood points or 50,000 Starwood points total|
|Total||100,000 Starwood points, 220,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, 300,000 American Express Membership Rewards points|
Of the 6 cards we applied for, 5 waived the annual fee for the first year. When it comes time to pay the annual fee, we will evaluate to see if we both need the same card. Or, if there’s overlap in the bonus spending categories. Then, we can make a decision to cancel or downgrade to a no annual fee card.
If you are new to collecting miles and points, start off by reading the Beginner’s Guide and applying for 1 to 2 credit cards to get comfortable with the process. I have applied for 2 to 4 cards every few months, but do what you are comfortable with.
If you have questions on how to complete the minimum spending requirements, see the 40+ Ways to Meet your Minimum Spend.
Planning and booking our honeymoon required a lot of points. But, in the past 12 months, we were still able to use miles and points from our cards to enjoy trips to Hawaii, Italy, Mexico, and Paris.
Getting More Miles & Points
We didn’t just rely on the sign-up bonuses for our points. For everyday spending, we made sure to use the card that earns us the highest spending bonus.
For example, we used the Chase Sapphire Preferred to earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points when dining out or paying for taxes and fees on airline award tickets. And we used the Ink Plus in the 5X bonus categories for purchases we had to make anyway.
In addition to credit card sign-up bonuses and bonus spending categories, we also signed-up for promotions like 50,000 ThankYou points for opening a Citigold checking account. This bonus was enough to pay for the first flight in our trip, 2 JetBlue Mint Business Class tickets from Los Angeles to New York.
Here’s a summary of our trip. I’ll explain later in the series why I paid cash for certain flights and hotels where we could have used points.
|Retail Cost||Cash Cost||Miles & Points Used||Sources of Miles & Points|
|Two one-way Business Class tickets from Los Angeles to New York||~$599 per person or ~$1,198 for two||0||50,000 ThankYou points per person or 100,000 ThankYou points for two||Citigold Checking Account|
|Two one-way Business Class tickets from New York to Amsterdam||~$7,025 per person or $14,050 total||~$6 per person or ~$12||62,500 Delta miles per person or 125,000 Delta miles for two||Transferred American Express Membership Rewards points|
|1 night at Andaz Amsterdam||$398 per night||0||25,000 Hyatt points||Transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points|
|Two one-way Business Class tickets from Amsterdam to Cape Town||~$4,692 per person or ~$9,384 for two||~$194 per person or ~$388 for two||62,500 Delta miles per person or 125,000 Delta miles for two||Transferred American Express Membership Rewards points|
|5 nights at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel||~$382 per night or ~$1,910 total||~$1,910||0|
|Two one-way Business Class tickets from Cape Town to Bali via Dubai||~$1,421 per person or ~$2,842 for two||~$1,421 per person or $2,842 for two||0|
|1 night at Grosvenor House, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Dubai||~$404 per night||0||20,000 Starwood points||Starwood points|
|5 nights at St. Regis Bali (Orchid Suite)||~$841 per night or ~$4,205 total||0||120,000 Starwood points||Starwood points|
|1 night at W Retreat & Spa, Seminyak||~$388 per night||~$388||0|
|Two one-way Business Class tickets from Bali to Singapore||~$1,201 per person or ~$2,402 for two||~$65 per person or ~$131 total||14,875 Singapore Airlines miles per person or 29,750 Singapore Airlines miles total||Transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points|
|1 night at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore||$437 per night||~$437||0|
|1 night at The Westin Singapore||$278 per night||0||20,000 Starwood points||Starwood points|
|Two one-way First Class Suite tickets from Singapore to Los Angeles||~$7,472 per person or ~$14,944 total||~$318 per person or ~$636 total||91,375 Singapore Airlines miles per person or 182,750 Singapore Airlines miles total||Transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points|
|TOTAL||~$26,420 per person or $52,840 for two||~$3,372 per person or ~$6,744 for two||25,000 Hyatt points, 100,000 ThankYou points, 160,000 Starwood points, 212,500 Singapore Airlines miles, and 250,000 Delta miles|
In the next part of the series, I’ll explain exactly how I booked the flights and hotels for our trip!