The final post! This trip wasn’t just for Megan… No, it was about earning lots of miles and points and meeting the minimum spend on several credit cards! I’ll do a more thorough review of the hotel itself at a later time since I had lots of other things to talk about in this trip report, but I wanted to end with a look back at how even an expensive trip can be especially
rewarding awarding. Check back on Monday when I’ll be running a contest to thank all of you who have been following this series.
- The Plan
- Outbound: SEA-SFO-OGG in United First Class
- Day 1: Check-in at the Hyatt Regency Maui
- Day 2: Visiting Old Lahaina
- Day 3: Proposal at Haleakala!
- Day 4: Road Trip around West Maui
- Day 5: Snorkeling at Molokini & the Drums of the Pacific Luau
- Return: OGG-SFO-SEA in United Economy Plus
- Turning a Proposal into a Miles and Points Bonanza!
I mentioned briefly in my interview with Daraius at Million Mile Secrets that I earned a s**t load of miles off of my marriage proposal. Here’s the general strategy. I’m including her numbers and mine, and also the proportion of a credit card sign-up bonus where this trip alone didn’t cover the whole minimum spend threshold. Obviously not everyone is going to have the same experience, but I think it is worth pointing out that you can use good planning to your advantage. There were still points left on the table.
Paid for with my Chase United MileagePlus Select Visa
26,400 United MileagePlus miles including flown miles, elite bonuses, and bonus for purchasing at united.com
Hotel and Car Reservation
Paid for with my mother’s Chase Sapphire Preferred card and transferred to me
60,000 Ultimate Rewards points including sign-up bonus and 7% annual dividend
Incidental Expenses at the Hyatt Regency Maui
Paid for with my Chase Hyatt Visa
6,200 Hyatt Gold Passport points including some quarterly promotions
I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have gotten the promotional points or the stay/night credit, but I did, so they go into the pot. I also got roughly $100 in savings on resort fees and Internet access.
Incidental Expenses Elsehwere
Paid for with Megan’s Starwood Preferred Guest American Express
14,000 SPG points including partial sign-up bonus
Paid for half with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa
62,000 Ultimate Rewards points including sign-up bonus and 7% annual dividend
Paying for the other half with my Starwood Preferred Guest American Express
40,000 SPG points including sign-up bonus
- 122,000 Ultimate Rewards points
- 54,000 SPG points
- 26,400 United miles
- 6,200 Hyatt points
Since those Ultimate Rewards points can and likely will be transferred to United and Hyatt, let’s say for the sake of simplicity that we earned 154,600 Ultimate Rewards points and 54,000 SPG points. Both programs allow for transfers and consolidation between different members. I have tons of Hyatt and United points/miles already, allowing me to mix and match so that they are essentially the same to me.
Those 154,000 UR points take us three quarters of the way toward two business class trips to Europe on a Star Alliance partner like Swiss, and those 54,000 SPG points can be used for cash + points awards for four to six nights at some very nice hotels. For example, checking some sample dates in March the W Barcelona is a Category 6 hotel that costs 20,000 points per night or 8,000 points + $150. The Westin Palace Madrid is a Category 5 hotel that costs 12,000 points per night or 4,800 points + $90. And then there’s the ornate Hotel Alfonso XIII I saw under renovation in Seville.
I would value the whole lot at around $3,000 for the Ultimate Rewards points (~2 cents each) and another $1,000 for the SPG points (~1.8 cents each). Just so you know, I determine value by what I would be willing to pay, not by the actual retail price. Never value things by the retail price if you wouldn’t pay that to begin with. The Frequent Miler has one of the most comprehensive lists of fair value for miles and points. Lucky also wrote a very outdated post at One Mile at a Time back in 2010, with an update on Travel Sort in 2011 that present somewhat higher numbers.
Yes, we earned all those miles and points because it was an expensive trip–and an expensive ring–but I only have to do it once.
But another thing I touched on in my interview with Daraius is that travel hacking offers the flexibility to pay through the nose when you really want to. If you aren’t doing your homework and are stuck paying huge fares when you don’t have to, you will travel less often. There’s only so much money to spend each year, and I know a lot of people who blow it quickly and complain that traveling is so expensive. $10 savings here, $20 there, even the occasional $400 bump voucher or 10,000 miles in compensation for a customer complaint–it all ads up if you keep looking.
There were definitely opportunities here to get even more miles and points. For example, I could have opened additional business versions of the SPG and Sapphire cards, but I really didn’t want to test the jewelry store’s patience. And as I am fond of saying, I try to be happy with “good enough.” I was able to take advantage of two cards that I really wanted, that I plan to keep instead of churning, and still come out with a decent haul that will help pay for something else in the future. Like that honeymoon.