We just booked a $44,800 luxury vacation for ONLY $637

If you’re a fan of this blog, you’ll know that we love our vacations. Through an awesome combination of miles, points, credit card signups, promotions, and straight up hustling, we earn between 1.5 million and 2 million points and miles a year. The problem that we run into (and it’s such a #FirstWorldProblem) is where can we spend so many miles and points, and actually get a luxurious, first class trip, that we would remember forever.

We also have full time jobs. 9-5 desk jobs that keep us dreaming of a warm beach getaway, especially in the dark winter days that Seattle is known for.

We aren’t millionaires, we don’t earn a six-figure income from the blog, but we have very expensive tastes. Most importantly, when we do get our 2-3 weeks of vacation a year, we want to make sure that we spend it in such a way that it actually seems like A VACATION! I need champagne, I need thread count, and I want a vacation to remember. No one ever remembers the economy flight they took across the water (in a good way) but let me tell you, when you’re getting a manicure and massage in the airport before you leave and eating caviar and lobster on board the airplane, you remember that one forever.

Emirates First Class Caviar

We want to give you a quick idea that it’s possible to not only earn that many miles and points, but also that you can redeem them in ways that you might not have thought possible. We’ll give you a quick walkthrough of the cards we used as well so you can plan your earning strategy.

Where are we going?

It’s been on our bucket list for a long time. We’ve heard people go there and come back changed. We wanted to experience it ourselves before the ocean waters rise and potentially wipe it off the map. We’re talking about the Maldives.

Overwater Bungalows, First Class Flights, Champagne, and more… all because of miles and points. 

How are we getting there?

First Stop, London! We’re flying to London via Virgin Atlantic, a Delta Skymiles partner. While using your Delta Skymiles for Delta flight can be a challenge, if there’s a seat available on Virgin Atlantic, it’s one of the best ways to get across the water. We both signed up for the Delta American Express Platinum Card (read more here) and earned a huge sign up bonus (70,000 miles at the time). There’s also the Reserve and the Gold versions of the card (check them out here and here) so if you’re gonna go for a signup, you can get more than one card and stack up the miles.

With some spending it was enough to get us each the 85,000 miles we needed to book this one way flight from Seattle-London

  • Miles Cost = 170,000
  • Dollar Cost = $11.20 (total)
  • Dollars Saved = $6,820 (total)
Richard Branson Virgin Seattle

Richard Branson Virgin Seattle

Next stop, Abu Dhabi and then Malé! Etihad partners with American Airlines, and although American recently just increased their price for this flight, it’s still one heck of a deal. Finding Etihad flights and their availability is very easy via their website. Once you find the flights you’re looking for, you can call American Airlines (via the Australian call center) and book your flight.

We’re heading on the A380 to Abu Dhabi and spending the night. In the morning we grab the flight on the A340 to Malé.

Although the Lounge in London looks like it might be closed down, we had a great time there before. There’s also a review of our previous A340 flights, A320 flights, and A380 flights on Etihad.

They do pass on some fuel charges, but they aren’t that bad. For only 62,500 miles one-way, it’s a STEAL. American Airlines does have a few credit cards on the business and persona side. The signup welcome bonus range from 40,000-70,000 on the personal cards and over 75,000 miles on the business card. Grab one of each and you’re on your way to a flight worth tens of thousands of dollars. . You can find those cards here.

  • Miles Cost = 125,000
  • Dollar Cost = $589.96 (total)
  • Dollars Saved = $8,692.04 (total)

Next flight, Dubai, Los Angeles, and Seattle! Emirates is by far the most aspirational and greatest redemption with Alaska Airlines miles. While they recently increased their prices, it just means that there’s more seats available for the rest of us. Alaska considers the Maldives to be in the Middle East, so at only 150,000 miles each one-way, we get a stop over in Dubai and a trip back from the Maldives.

We’ll be flying a 777-300 from Malé and then the A380 from Dubai to Los Angeles. Connecting back on Alaska’s 737 service from Los Angeles to Seattle is easy. Onboard showers and bar service, here we come!

Ben running the Emirates First and Business Class Bar

Emirates Shower Spa

Emirates Shower Spa

  • Miles Cost = 300,000
  • Dollar Cost = $36.40 (total)
  • Dollars Saved = $20,795.60 (total)

Where are we staying?

We’ll be spending one night in our favorite hotel in the world, the St. Pancras Renaissance hotel in London, another night in the Aloft Abu Dhabi (we’ve stayed there before as well).

Both of those were free with our Marriott (SPG) points. 

  • St Pancras Renaissance, 45,000 points (pre merger) or 60,000 points (post merger)
    • Total Savings $451
  • Aloft Abu Dhabi 4,000 points (pre merger) and 17,500 (post merger).
    • Total Savings $476

For the win, we’re staying at the St Regis in the Maldives. Before the merger this was a ridiculously unattainable hotel. The cost ranged from 60,000 Starpoints to over 100,000 Starpoints a night (that’s 180-300k in the new world). Now, for a very limited time, you can get an overwater bungalow for only 80,000 Marriott points a night. Considering the cost of the room shoots well over $2,500 a night, this is one of the best redemptions we’ve seen.

St Regis Maldives Prices – OUCH

 

St Regis Maldives From Marriott.com

St Regis Maldives From Marriott.com, Overwater Villa

  • Points Cost = 240,000
  • Dollar Cost = FREE
  • Dollars Saved = $7,566

How did we earn the points?

Redemption and Cost Savings

  • Total Points and Miles
    • 170k Delta + 125k AA + 285k Marriott + 4k SPG + 300k Alaska
    • 884,000 Total Miles and Points
    • $637.56 TOTAL Cost
    • $44,800 Savings

Can you earn that many miles and points in a year? You sure can. We posted a while back about how we earned well over 1.7 million in under 8 months. It’s a good read if you haven’t read it yet. It’s a good primer on how we come across all the points that we do. Credit card signups are one way of many to get you there.

While this kind of accumulation might take you a little bit of time, if you work in pairs with a spouse or loved one, you could earn everything you need in a year’s time.

If you had a million miles and points, where would be your bucket list vacation? Where would you travel? Share with us below!

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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15 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, you neglect to mention the extra cost needed to actually get to the St. Regis Maldives, which was a big deterrent for my wife and I, even with “free” hotel nights on points.

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    • I didn’t neglect to mention it… because that wasn’t factored into the cost of the room. Booking. No matter where you go in the Maldives, points or not, it’s gonna cost you.

      Post a Reply
    • You could always go to the Sheraton full Moon which only charges $135 for the round trip transfer, but it’s a much inferior hotel.

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  2. I never understood why every blogger loves the Maldives. I was bored out of my mind there. Couldn’t wait to leave.

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  3. Did you look at QSuites with AA miles? I think it would only cost 70k each way.

    Post a Reply
  4. Nice trip. But you could just buy the miles needed during promotions for around $12k total so I would value the trip any higher than that.

    I usually divide that value by 2 to factor in time, opportunity cost, annual fees etc of accumulating all of those miles

    Post a Reply
    • I’m not worried about opportunity cost because that’s not part of a valuation. Most of the miles and points we earned in normal due course of our lives …

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  5. Meh I think I would get bored in about 2 days in the Maldives. Would rather go to Africa, Patagonia, South Pacific, New Zealand or Australia etc. All good weather when it’s winter in Seattle.

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  6. congrats, sounds like a great redemption. But while the cost of booking all those one way flights would be $44k, no one would actually do that. Most people, including yourself I presume, would not pay 44k for a series of one way tickets for their vacation. So in theory while a series of one way flights like you took would cost 44k, no rational person save a billionaire with no regard for money would do so. A more rational approach would be to price the cost of a round trip to one of the locations, like Dubai, with the cost of puddle jumpers thrown in. Then you divide that cost by the points and miles you actually spent to get a more realistic cpp valuation.

    Post a Reply
    • Plenty of people buy one way tickets. In fact we spoke to many of them on the flights. And since you can’t book Virgin/Etihad/Emirates on the same ticket stock you’ve got to price it this way.

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  7. How did you book the overwater villa for 80k a night ?

    I’ve tried three times to book and it costs 170k Marriott points per night vs 60k for the beach villa.

    Post a Reply
    • The rate was 80,000 a night just after the merger. I have called since and I’ve been told that it’s also 170,000. When I asked management on the island about it, he seemed to think this was the post January 1, 2019 pricing and shouldn’t be in effect as of yet. I’d ask to escalate to a supervisor and try and get the 80,000 rate OR book the Beach Villa and attempt to upgrade with cash beforehand. Upgrade runs around $250-450 a night. If you have an ambassador, try using them.

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  8. The Republic of Maldives is awesome! Spent 9 nights there at two different resorts; Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma and The Conrad Rangali. I loved them both. High Speed Boat at one and seaplane at the other. I enjoyed the service way better at Kandooma. I get by with thinking, “Dreaming of white sand beaches is very calming.” That’s how much I enjoyed the vacation ever in The Republic of Maldives!

    We are a gay couple and had absolutely no issues/hassles. It was very accepted there.

    Post a Reply
    • I didn’t feel any awkwardness either… it was amazing 🙂

      Post a Reply

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