[Trick Play] My Nearly-Free $7,000 Spring Break (Really)

Afternoon players,

I’m here to tell you all about the MOST FUN part about miles and points: USING THEM.


[Game Plan]


As you can see, I’m travelling to Asia!  And it’s ALL ON POINTS AND MILES.

Here are the stats for just the two round-trips to Asia:

Los Angeles (LAX)- Seoul(ICN)- Shanghai(PVG)- Beijing(PEK)- Hong Kong(HKG)- San Francisco (SFO)- Los Angeles (LAX)

Six Segments

Six Airports

Four Countries

Total Cost: 120,000 miles and $210.00 in taxes and fees for two travelers in economy

Cost of travel without miles: ~$2,500 per ticket ($5,000 total)


I’ve never been to Asia, so I am very excited for this trip.  I’ll hit 4 countries I’ve never been to (South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macao), get to visit Shanghai on a new rule China instated for 2013 letting US Citizens visit visa-free for 3 days, and hit some great hotels!




Park Hyatt Seoul

For Seoul, we have a 12 hour layover overnight.  While that doesn’t mean we get too much time in Seoul, we will be staying in the Gangnam district, which will mean I will be playing this on repeat:

[youtube id=”9bZkp7q19f0″ width=”620″ height=”360″]

But seriously, ever since my stay at the Park Hyatt Place-Vendome last January (I can’t believe it’s been a year!), I’ve been intrigued by other Park Hyatts across the world.  I’ve read great reviews about the Park Hyatt Seoul, and since I have a free Hyatt night with my Chase Hyatt Visa Card (given to you every year you keep the card), I’ll be using it here!

Retail Cost: $362.oo

Cost to me: $75 for the annual fee for the Hyatt card

Almost a $300 discount?  Not bad.



For Shanghai, I had more Hyatt points to burn.  Since I saved up my points by getting the Chase Ink and Chase Sapphire Cards, I had plenty of Ultimate Rewards points to burn.  With so many hotels to choose from, I decided to hotel hop!

 -Night 1-


For the first night, we will be staying at the just-opened Andaz Shanghai.  Having stayed at the Andaz West Hollywood and Andaz Liverpool Street in London, I have high hopes for this brand-new property!  To preview, check out The Points Guy’s review here.


Cost to me: 15,000 points (Category 4 Hyatt Gold Passport Hotel)

Retail Cost: $256.76

-Night 2-


You never know when you’ll be in Shanghai again, so why not go big?  For the second night, we will be staying in the world’s second highest hotel, the Park Hyatt Shanghai.  Located on the 79th-93rd floors of the Shanghai World Financial Center, one of the tallest buildings in the world, the views should be stunning (if the Shanghai fog clears).

Cost to me: 18,000 points (Category 5 Hyatt Gold Passport Hotel)

Retail Cost: $433.28

-Hong Kong-


-Nights 1 + 2-

For our four nights in Hong Kong, I wanted to use up some more of my “free nights” from my various credit cards that expire each year.  The first two nights will be spent at the Intercontinental Hong Kong, one of the flagships of the luxury chain, known for its incredible views of the harbor from the rooms.  I’ll be using:

80,000 Priority Club points (Sign-up bonus from Chase Priority Club card) and $140.00 in cash.

Retail: $612.13

-Night 3-


This is the grand daddy of the trip.  I had 50,000 points from my Chase Marriott card sign-up bonus, so I wanted to use those up.  One of the lesser-known options of the Marriott program is its transfer-ability into Ritz Carlton’s reward program.  As a transfer partner with Ultimate Rewards, I was able to top off my 50,000 points with and extra 20,000 and book a night at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, the highest hotel in the world.  I am beyond excited for this stay, since I’ve never stayed at a Ritz-Carlton before and it’s very, very high in the sky!

Cost to me: 50,000 Marriott points and 20,000 Ultimate Reward Points

Retail Cost: $593.50

-Night 4-


The last night will be spent at the Conrad Hong Kong, highly regarded among Hilton devotees.  I’m excited about this hotel because of the high floors in Hong Kong and how it is perched on the hills over the city.  I’m using one of my “Hilton Weekend Escape Nights” given to me by my Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, one of two I received.

Cost to me: One Hilton Free Night

Retail Cost: $411.19

[Post Game]

So, can you see why practicing the Travel Game can earn you big rewards?  In just over a year, I can take a trip like this, which I admit is pretty extravagant.  For those that want to stay closer to home, less preparation will be needed.

Grand total cost to me: 2 free night certificates, $410 and 303,000 points across several programs

Grand total cost to Retail consumer: $7,668.86.


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