How to Fly Round-Trip to Japan for ~$100 in Business Class: Part 1 – Introduction & Planning

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How to Fly Round-Trip to Japan for ~$100 in Business Class: Part 1 – Introduction & Planning

Million Mile SecretsHow to Fly Round-Trip to Japan for ~$100 in Business Class: Part 1 – Introduction & PlanningMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Ever dreamed of visiting Japan?  Credit card rewards can help get you there for a fraction of the price!

Using miles & points, I recently flew round-trip from Austin, Texas, to Japan for ~$110 in Business Class.  The retail cost was ~$11,000!  And for 3 weeks of lodging (including some fancy hotels), I spent ~$450!

Japan is a beautiful country, filled with a lot to see and do.  You’ll find everything from high-rise skyscrapers to old temples and hot springs.  I loved Tokyo’s energetic neighborhoods, shopping, and delicious restaurants.  And Kyoto is a fantastic place to ride bicycles, and to explore the bamboo forest and monkey park.

Participating in a cooking class and meeting new friends was the highlight of Osaka.  And a day trip to feed the deer in Nara was unforgettable!  Plus, Okinawa is known for its beautiful beaches and scuba diving.

Japan Trip Report
I’ll Share an Introduction to My Trip to Japan!

Wherever you go, you’re sure to have an amazing time!

In this series, I’ll share an overview of how I got to Japan, where I stayed, what I did, and how you can do it, too!   It’s not as difficult as you might think!  In future posts, I’ll have in-depth trip reports for each city I visited.

How to Fly to Japan for ~$100 Trip Report Index:

Introduction and Planning

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted to go to Japan.  Back then, I was in love with Sanrio themed stationery and stickers.  My boyfriend is half Japanese, and grew up in Okinawa, Japan, for the first 20 years of his life.

He left Japan when he was 20, and hadn’t been back since — in nearly 20 years!  Because I love helping fulfill others’ travel dreams, I jumped at the opportunity to reunite family and see Japan for myself!

Cost Breakdown

 Round-Trip Business Class Ticket From Austin to TokyoRoom at the Various Hyatt Hotels in Tokyo, Hakone, and Osaka
Retail cost~$4,500 to ~$7,000+~$200 to ~$400+ per night
Our Cash Cost$100 in taxes$0
Miles & Points Used95,000 American Airlines Miles8,000 to 25,000 Hyatt points per night
Source of Miles & Points-Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles
- Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®
Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles
- Chase Hyatt
Current sign-up bonus of 2 free nights at any Hyatt after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account
Chase Ultimate Rewards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 points
Alternatives- Alaska Airlines - 50,000 miles one-way with certain airlines
- United Airlines - 65,000 miles one-way
- American Airlines - 35,000 miles one-way (32,000 between October 1 and April 30)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 points
- Chase Ink Preferred
Current sign-up bonus of 80,000 points
- Chase Ink Bold & Chase Ink Plus
Not available to new applicants
Additional Information- You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines at a ratio of 1:1
- You can transfer Starwood points to Alaska Airlines at a ratio of 1:1
- You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt at a ratio of 1:1
Japan Trip Report
Business Class Makes Long Plane Rides More Comfy!

Using Miles For Business Class Flights

I redeemed 190,000 American Airlines miles for 2 round-trip Business Class flights to Japan on Cathay Pacific (95,000 American Airlines miles per ticket), that I booked before American Airlines changed their award chart.

It now costs 120,000 American Airlines miles for one round-trip Business Class ticket!

I wanted to fly First Class, but had trouble finding seats, so instead booked Business Class flights.

Our first destination in Japan was Okinawa, which is not in mainland Japan. We flew into Taipei, Taiwan, which was the closest city we could get while still traveling in Business Class.  After our stay in Okinawa, we booked a separate one-way ticket to Tokyo.  From Tokyo, we stopped in Hakone, Kyoto, and Osaka, before flying back to the US out of Osaka.

I found a route with a few layovers, but it would be a long trip.  So I called the American Airlines customer service line to book the less-than-ideal flights I found, and the agent asked where I wanted to go and the dates I wanted to travel.

Japan Trip Report
Cheers to $110 International Flights!

I let her know I wanted to fly as close to Okinawa, Japan as possible, and then fly out of mainland Japan.  She was excellent, and found better seats for me than I found for myself!

3 Weeks of Hotels & Airbnbs for ~$450

On this trip, I used a combination of hotel points and free night certificates, and cash for Airbnbs.

For the majority of my trip, I used Hyatt hotel points and certificates I earned by signing-up for the Chase Hyatt card.  And transferred the Chase Ultimate Rewards points I earned from Chase credit cards to Hyatt, at a 1:1 ratio.  

My everyday spending credit cards are always Chase cards because their Ultimate Rewards points program is easy and versatile.  I LOVE being able to transfer points to Hyatt for swanky hotels and to Southwest for practically free (~$11) domestic round-trip flights!

Japan Trip Report
Our Free Room at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo Had Great Views of the City

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, the Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa, and the Hyatt Regency Osaka.

As you can see, I love staying at Hyatt hotels!  Daraius has Globalist elite status that he still shares with me.  And it’s very easy to transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt.

We also stayed in Airbnbs in Kyoto and Okinawa.  And in my opinion, Airbnb is the way to go for families and larger groups!

Japan Trip Report
The Airbnb in Kyoto Was Clean and Comfortable

You’ll get more of an authentic feel for the area you’re visiting and more amenities for the price.  And if you use my Airbnb referral link, you can get $40 off your next rental!

You Can Do It, Too!

1.   Flights

One-way Business Class flights to Japan cost 95,000 American Airlines miles and ~$5 in taxes and fees.

For an even better flight experience, try to find a seat on Cathay Pacific or Japan Air Lines!

If you need more American Airlines miles, consider cards like:

2.   Hotels

I stayed for free at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, which usually costs ~$700+ per night!  I used my 2 free nights from the Chase Hyatt card sign-up bonus for part of my stay.  And I transferred points to Hyatt from my Chase Sapphire Preferred, which is super easy to do.

There are plenty of hotels where you can stay with points, so it doesn’t have to be Hyatt!  Use Hotel Hustle or Award Mapper to find hotels you can book with points.

Hilton has hotels in Japan including the Hilton Tokyo and Hilton Osaka.  Or you could use IHG points to stay at the InterContinental Tokyo Bay or InterContinental Osaka.  There are lots of options!

Bottom Line

Japan is a beautiful country filled with lots to see and do.  There’s everything from high-rise skyscrapers to old temples and hot springs.

I used 190,000 American Airlines miles for 2 round-trip Business Class flights to Japan on Cathay Pacific, which was before the devaluation.  Currently it costs 240,000 American Airlines miles for 2 round-trip Business Class flights.

For 3 weeks of lodging (including some fancy hotels), I spent ~$450!  On this trip, I used a combination of hotel points and cash for Airbnbs.  For the majority of the hotels, I used Hyatt hotel points.  I earned them because I signed-up for the Chase Hyatt card and Chase credit cards.  But there are plenty of options once you get to Japan!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Just signed up for your newsletter. I am quite new to points and miles. thanks for your trip review, very helpful as my son and I will be going next Summer. We redeemed BA Avios for our return flight from KIX-HND-SFO in business. Why can’t I see our flight in my JAL Mileage Bank? Thanks

What is expert fly? A reply said they used it to get notifications… But fails to exist, please advise thank you


Total cash outlay for all the points? And time it took.

~$40,000 in a year. Is my math correct?


@ Brad- The minimum spending requirements for each card vary. Usually they are around ~$2,000-5,000 within the first 3 months. Here’s a post on how to meet the minimum spending requirements. Check out the cards on the Hot Deals page to see the sign-on points received and the regular spending earning rate.

After I complete any necessary minimum spending, I put all of my regular purchases on credit cards and try to max out the points per dollar for each transaction. Different cards offer different rewards for spending. The Chase Freedom Unlimited has quarterly bonus categories, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns multiple points for travel and dining, etc, so I think about the best rate of return before I pay for anything. I also shop through the bank’s shopping portal to extract even more points.

The exact time it takes to accumulate the points and the amount needed is different for everyone based on the current cards they have, new cards they might want to get, and so on. I know I don’t spend anywhere near $40k per year for all those points. Hope that helps!

Just booked roundtrip business class tickets on Japan Airlines to see cherry blossom next April. I am nervous taking a train from Tokyo to Kyoto. Hope that is covered in your future trip reports. Looking forward to reading them.

Gita, The train to Kyoto from Tokyo is super easy, and there are many of them! It’s like taking the subway in NYC or Boston — with really good signage and clean seats. Don’t worry at all! You have the option to take the super express shinkansen or the regional express, but it’s pretty straightforward and you can easily ask the stationmaster and they’ll help you.

@ Gita- Oooh, how nice! I wouldn’t be nervous about the train from Tokyo to Kyoto. They are clean, comfortable, and fast. Plus it’s a great way to see more of the country! But yes, I will be going into more detail on transportation within Japan.

But you would have to spend something like $6000 on these credit cards to get the miles right. Same thing doe the hotel credit cards.

@ Kaleem- The minimum spending requirements vary, but you can stagger them so you don’t have to apply and spend all at once. There are other creative ways to earn points, such as maximizing the spending you do anyway on cards you already have. For example, I rotate between my Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Chase Sapphire Reserve for most of my day-to-day purchases. The multiple points per dollar can really add up! Also, when I need to shop, especially for big purchases, I shop through the bank’s shopping portal. Every little bit helps!

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