~$53,000 Around-the-World Honeymoon for ~$6,700! Part 1 Introduction & Planning

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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.

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 1 Introduction Planning

Million Mile Secrets Team Member Keith and His Wife Liz Finished Their Around-the-World Honeymoon Trip With a Flight in Singapore First Class Suites

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:

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
53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 1 Introduction Planning

The Long Flights Were Worth It to See Beautiful Sunsets Like This One in Cape Town

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.

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 1 Introduction Planning

Taking Advantage of Valuable Credit Card Promotions and Paying Your Balances in Full Each Month Can Actually Help Increase Your Credit Score

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!

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 1 Introduction Planning

Earning Separate Sign-Up Bonuses Helped Get Us to Cape Town During Our Honeymoon to Visit the Cape of Good Hope

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.

CardSign-Up Bonus
Chase Sapphire Preferred50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points per person or 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points total
Chase Ink Plus70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per person or 140,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points total
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points per person or 150,000 American Express Membership Rewards points total
The Platinum Card from American Express100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points per person or 200,000 American Express Membership Rewards points total
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express35,000 Starwood points per person or 70,000 Starwood points total
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express35,000 Starwood points or 70,000 Starwood points total
Total140,000 Starwood points, 240,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, 350,000 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.

Cost Breakdown

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 CostCash CostMiles & Points UsedSources of Miles & Points
Two one-way Business Class tickets from Los Angeles to New York~$599 per person or ~$1,198 for two050,000 ThankYou points per person or 100,000 ThankYou points for twoCitigold 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 ~$1262,500 Delta miles per person or 125,000 Delta miles for twoTransferred American Express Membership Rewards points
1 night at Andaz Amsterdam $398 per night025,000 Hyatt pointsTransferred 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 two62,500 Delta miles per person or 125,000 Delta miles for twoTransferred American Express Membership Rewards points
5 nights at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel~$382 per night or ~$1,910 total ~$1,9100
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 two0
1 night at Grosvenor House, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Dubai~$404 per night020,000 Starwood pointsStarwood points
5 nights at St. Regis Bali (Orchid Suite)~$841 per night or ~$4,205 total0120,000 Starwood pointsStarwood points
1 night at W Retreat & Spa, Seminyak~$388 per night~$3880
Two one-way Business Class tickets from Bali to Singapore~$1,201 per person or ~$2,402 for two~$65 per person or ~$131 total14,875 Singapore Airlines miles per person or 29,750 Singapore Airlines miles totalTransferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points
1 night at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore$437 per night~$4370
1 night at The Westin Singapore$278 per night020,000 Starwood pointsStarwood 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 total91,375 Singapore Airlines miles per person or 182,750 Singapore Airlines miles totalTransferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points
TOTAL~$26,420 per person or $52,840 for two~$3,372 per person or ~$6,744 for two25,000 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!

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16 responses to “~$53,000 Around-the-World Honeymoon for ~$6,700! Part 1 Introduction & Planning

  1. You stole my thunder. I just booked my around the world trip and we leave in March. You have done what I am doing with my trip which is making a detailed story on how I did it. You left east and returned from the west. We are leaving west and coming back from the east. Indiana to Minnesota to Narita Japan to Bali to Singapore to Dubai to Dallas to Atlanta and back to Fort Wayne. My total trip cost is just over $40,000 so far and right now it is looking like $1,400 in out of pocket. The highlight of our trip will be first class on the A380 Emirates flights and the Waldorf Astoria on the Palm Island in Dubai.
    It is so cool to see that other people are scoring big from this hobby. Congrats to Keith and Liz as I know the time and effort that is put into a trip like this. Way to go you guy… you did it! I can’t wait to read the rest of your story.

  2. Wow!! Before I knew anything about points my wife and I spent a similar amount of money for a honeymoon to just Aruba. Nice work

  3. Great stuff! Makes me want to do it for an adventure.

    Well done.

    Terry

  4. Bali to Singapore….such a short flight. Should have taken Air Asia/Tiger Air etc and not used miles

    Good job overall

  5. I am also building my honeymoon using points. Decided to travel all around Asia for 30 days instead of around-the-world (as i just think its too taxing on the body to keep switching time zones lol). Los Angeles -> Tokyo (4 days) -> Manila (5 days) -> El Nido (3 days) -> Singapore (layover) -> Bali (6 days) – Singapore (layover) -> Phuket (6 days) -> Bangkok (3 days) -> Hong Kong (3 days) -> Los Angeles. TPAC legs will be in Singapore First (sadly, not on the A380 anymore, but #firstworldproblems) and Cathay First, and all intra-asia flights in Business Class (except the flights to/from El Nido). Trip is retailing at $59K, out of pocket is going to be ~ $3500. Can’t wait to share my story on MMM when i’m finally done and the trip is booked (june 2017 hopefully).

    An added bonus is that we’re gonna have enough points for a second honeymoon 6 months later, but this time we’ll be travelling for 3 weeks around Western Europe (London, France, Venice, Florence/Tuscany, Rome, and Barcelona)

  6. What happened to ‘small money’?

    Almost $10k for this trip??

  7. Dan Diversky

    I question where some of these prices came from. 2 One-way tickets on Delta from JFK to AMS for $14,000. That’s ridiculously high by at least 50-75%. You can fly Air France La Premiere for less than that, and there’s no comparison. You can buy DeltaOne tickets from AMS to CPT for tomorrow for less than what this post says. C’mon, you can do better.

  8. Dan i thought the same but looked on google flights and seems like prices are right. NYC to Amsterdam is $7100 for august. I would never pay that for that route.

  9. Good for you guys. I loved your choices of country, and sent this around to a couplw friends with a note saying “see? This is what im talkin about.”

  10. I always hate the exaggerated cost. There’s no way an one way business class ticket from NY to AMS cost over $7k unless you are counting last minute refundable fares. Similar flights (minus suites) can probably be replicated for $15k less with some advanced planning and taking advantage of flight promotions. this is more like a $20k trip instead of 53k

  11. For total disclosure, what did you pay in credit card fees to earn the miles you used? That is definitely an added cost. Love this website and am starting my collection of points. 🙂 thanks!

  12. True Alex. $7k for a $20k trip? Not as good as advertised.

  13. Just wondering why you chose to use so many miles to fly first class from LA to NY? I would save those miles for another vacation to Europe or somewhere else. Why burn all the miles you collected?

  14. @Rod – Congrats! Sound like you’ll have an amazing honeymoon adventure!

    @Norman – Two honeymoons in 1 year sounds fantastic! Enjoy!

    @Dan – The price of each flight shown is based on the cash cost of the same route and airline Keith used for his award flight.

    @Sara – Keith mentioned 5 of the 6 cards had the annual fee waived for the first year. Here’s a post about getting your annual fee waived: http://millionmilesecrets.com/2015/03/22/how-to-get-your-annual-fee-waived/

    @Susan – Keith used Citi ThankYou points from a checking account, which can’t be transferred directly to a Citi airline partner. He decided to redeem them through the Citi ThankYou Portal for the most value! http://millionmilesecrets.com/2015/11/15/what-you-can-and-cant-do-with-citi-thankyou-points-from-a-checking-account/

  15. How did they meet the spending requirements on all 12 credit cards?

  16. @ Zac by MS…good old glory days

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