A Family Trip to Maui and Kauai, Paid With Miles & Points!

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Welcome to the next installment of our Reader Success Series where Million Mile Secrets Readers share how they booked a trip with miles & points to get Big Travel with Small Money!

Mona is our newest reader success story to show folks it’s possible to travel without spending a lot of money.

A Family Trip To Maui And Kauai Paid With Miles Points

Here’s Mona and Her Kids About to Have Breakfast at the Andaz Maui

A big thank you to Mona for sharing her story!

Please introduce yourself to everyone and tell us how long you’ve been involved in the miles & points hobby.

My name is Mona.  I have been in this hobby since October 2013.

I can’t remember how I stumbled upon the miles and points blogs.  But I am so thankful I did.  It changed our spending habits and our travel goals!

What was the goal of your trip?

To be able to bring my whole family to a relaxing place without using up our savings or getting in debt.  We are not yet looking into luxurious travel like First Class flights.

A Family Trip To Maui And Kauai Paid With Miles Points

Me and My Daughter by the Adults-Only Pool at the Andaz Maui. We Were Just Walking Around the Resort 😉

We just want to be able to stay in nice resorts without spending our life savings.  🙂

How long did you collect miles and points for your trip? 

For 1 year.

Which points did you save to take your trip?

What cards would you recommend to someone starting out with miles & points?

How did you search for and find the award flights?

Because I wanted to save my Chase Ultimate Rewards points and spend as little out-of-pocket as possible, I decided to book a one-way trip from San Francisco to Maui.  And another one-way from Maui home to San Francisco with different miles:

  • San Francisco to Maui – 67,500 United Airlines miles + $16.80 (tax and fees)
  • Maui to San Francisco – 67,500 Delta miles + $16.80 (tax and fees)
  • Then a round-trip flight in the middle from Maui to Kauai:
  • Maui to Kauai round-trip – 45,000 American Airlines miles + $33.60 (tax and fees)
A Family Trip To Maui And Kauai Paid With Miles Points

In the Family Room at the Centurion Lounge in SFO

For the flights, we would have spent $2,254.  Instead, we only spent $67.20.

How did you find your hotel accommodations?

My husband and I got 2 free nights each from the Chase Hyatt Visa and Starwood points converted to Marriott to use at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Maui.

Initially, our booking was for 5 nights at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Maui (240,000 Marriott points).  

But one day before our trip, a room opened up at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort for Points + Cash (12,500 Hyatt points + $150).  So we booked right away and modified our Ritz-Carlton reservation to only 1 night to avoid the $500 cancellation fee.

Our final charges looked like this.  (I removed the food charges so these are only for the hotel charges only.)

And last but not least:

What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?

Finding a standard room at the Andaz Maui!  But we were glad something opened up at the last minute.  Must have been because of cancellations. 

Also, another challenge was having 2 kids in tow.  Be aware that if your kid is age 2 and up, they will be using the same miles as an adult!  Ugh!  But thanks to credit card sign-up bonuses, we were able to afford it!

Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination.  Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.

We loved Andaz Maui!  It was really worth the points and money spent!

Their beach is lovely, the sands were fine and they had beach boys that will set up lounge chairs and provide towels for you.

Also, when you are at the infinity pools, you have to try their sesame rolls and pork belly tacos!  So good, so worth it!

A Family Trip To Maui And Kauai Paid With Miles Points

My Daughter on the Balcony at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. We Were Upgraded From a Standard Room to a Partial Ocean View Room. We Also Paid $75 per Night to Access the Grand Club Lounge – up to 4 Adults per Room. It Was Lovely and Worth It!

To tell you the truth, you can stay at the Andaz Maui and just spend your whole stay there.  The resort fee is $40 a night, but they have so many activities you can enjoy: ukelele classes, paddleboarding class, free GoPro rental, and many more!

We also recommend a group of food trucks across Costco parking lot near the airport.  There’s a Thai food truck: Thai Mee Up.  

Their Pad Thai and fried rice chicken were sooo delicious!  And they were only $10 to $13 each.  The portions were more enough for 2 people!  So worth it.

What did you learn about yourself on the trip?

I learned to be more positive always!!!  I was hoping to get room upgrades during our trip.  So weeks before, I emailed the managers to request it.  I wasn’t upgraded at the Andaz Maui.  But was upgraded at the Ritz-Carlton.  Grand Hyatt Kauai was upgraded, too. 

On our first night, when we checked-in to the Andaz Maui, we were not upgraded.  I admit, I was a bit disheartened.

A Family Trip To Maui And Kauai Paid With Miles Points

My Husband and Daughter, Enjoying Our Room at the Andaz Maui

But when my 4-year-old entered the room, she jumped on the bed and yelled, “This is the best room ever!!!!  I love our room!”  Right then, I realized even though your expectations don’t go as planned, what’s important is you are with your family.  And to decide that no matter what, you will have fun! 

After that, I appreciated every little thing on our trip, like free sunblock and water everywhere, and the nice weather.  I overlooked the negative things (like dropping my phone in the water, but I had insurance on it) and focused on the positives!

What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip? Or to those who haven’t taken a miles & points trip yet!

Every time there’s an awesome offer, just apply!  Double it by applying for your spouse as well!

It helps to be organized – I had spreadsheets. 

Don’t make new expenses, pay for the bills you are already paying.

For example, to meet $3,000 in spending requirements, I overpaid our power bill ($500, which is enough for ~6 months), water bill ($500, good for ~10 months), and mortgage through Plastiq.  And other bills as well!

Just with those payments, I already met the minimum spending.  Plus I don’t have to worry about those bills for the next few months! 

Want to Share Your Story?

If you’d like to be considered for our reader success story series, please send me a note!  Emily and I would love to hear about how you travel with miles and points!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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7 responses to “A Family Trip to Maui and Kauai, Paid With Miles & Points!

  1. 4 nights at Andaz maui with 37,500 points? Is this correct number? Not 375,000?

    • She used points and cash which is 12,500 + $150 a night. So just counting the points for 3 nights it’s 37,500 plus her 1 free night so that’s 4 nights.

    • 37.5k for the cash + points at the Andaz. So 12.5K for 3 nights (with $150 per night not mentioned) plus the 4th night redeemed with the free night from the Hyatt Visa.

  2. Never thought of over paying utility bills! Great idea!

  3. I use the same method as you to meet minimum spending requirements, especially for some of the cards that require $5,000 in 3 months. Overpay gas, electric, water, garbage, phone, and cable. All these places gladly accept overpayment!

  4. We did similar for 5.
    United r/t for 5 from east coast to Maui – 200k UA miles
    4 nights Hyatt Lahaina – taxes only – 2 hyatt cards
    1 night Hana – $250
    4 nights Fairmont – taxes only- 2 Fairmont cards
    rt from Maui to Kauai – Hawaiin airlines miles
    6 nights Kauai Marriott – taxes only – Marriott personal x 2 and biz

    biggest expense was rental car (Hertz friends & family helped a lot), food (breakfast and lunches out of cooler after trip to Costco) and excursions. Used $1k from Capital one cards to help offset

    Australia for 3 weeks next summer with flights and hotels for 5 all covered with miles. Churned those 100k AA executive cards like butter when you could. Same for Virgin Atlantic to convert for hotel stays