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The Orchants opened seven credit cards in eight months, earning around half a million points to make this dream trip a reality.
Saving points on airfare to Japan
Rather than splurging on premium cabin airfare (which is also generally harder to find), the Orchants decided to book economy flights with their rewards. This gave them more points to use in Japan.
They booked round-trip, nonstop airfare from Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND) for 100,000 Aeroplan points per ticket. For reference, Air Canada Aeroplan doesn’t have the lowest award rates on this route. When X (Star Alliance economy award) fare is available, here’s the round-trip cost per person using these programs, all of which are transfer partners of American Express Membership Rewards:
- ANA Mileage Club: 50,000 miles plus $619.25.
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 65,000 points plus around $300.
- Avianca LifeMiles: 94,400 miles plus $93.95.
- Air Canada Aeroplan: 100,000 points plus $122.80.
Regardless, the Orchants transferred 200,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to Air Canada Aeroplan to book the ANA flight (which we’re told would have been around $5,000 for two tickets using cash), leaving them with 100,000 leftover Membership Rewards points from their two welcome bonuses. They’ll use those points for a future trip.
Luxury Hyatt stays in Japan
Modern Japanese-inspired rooms and suites that sit in a prime location and come outfitted with luxurious Aesop bath amenities don’t come cheap. For their dates, rooms were going for around $1,100 per night. So, their 120,000 World of Hyatt points saved them around $4,400.
To get their World of Hyatt accounts to 190,000 points, the Orchants both signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Each of their card offers included an 80,000-point sign-up bonus at the time (which has since expired). They also each opened the World of Hyatt Credit Card to earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in their first three months from account opening.
Because you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio, the Orchants were able to transfer most of the points they earned from signing up for their cards toward their Hyatt stays.
Maximizing Marriott certificates
When they were planning their trip, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card offered a sign-up bonus of three free night awards (up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night). This offer has also expired. Since each night was just 44,000 points, they didn’t have to use points to top off their certificates.
Had the Orchants decided to pay cash, they would’ve spent just over $1,100 for the three-night stay.
The Orchants are about to leave on an unforgettable honeymoon trip. They earned nearly half a million points by opening seven credit cards, which funded their air travel and lodging in Japan. They’ll be taking a convenient nonstop flight from Washington, D.C., while staying at some of Japan’s most prestigious hotels during the nine-night trip.
If they had paid cash for their travels, the trip would have set them back roughly $14,500.
Now, it’s worth noting that such a strategy takes time to implement thanks to the various application restrictions from the major card issuers — most notably Chase’s 5/24 rule. Nevertheless, this story shows how planning in advance can unlock incredible value when you put your rewards to use.
Congratulations to the Orchants, and safe travels to Japan.