My Points, Miles, and Taxes Spent in 2013

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I’ve received a few emails asking for more details on how I travel, compliments on my travel style, and a few requests on award booking.  Most of my trips I take with my wife and we have no kids at the moment. I don’t take trips on my own just to try out airline products or hotels nor do I mileage run.  I like to make my wife happy by giving her an enjoyable and comfortable trip and at the same time enjoy and blog about the trip as well.  I’d like to say my travel style is a combination of practicality by taking the most direct route, frugality by getting the best deal, and enjoyable by redeeming points and miles for hotels/flights I would never pay for.  My style of traveling is not trying to do things as cheap as possible, but to get a deal that balances cost and practicality. I’m not writing this post to brag, but to be informative. I’ve compiled a chart below of all my points, miles, and taxes spent in 2013.

Points Spent Program Flight/Hotel Nights Destination Taxes Notes
12,000 Hyatt Hyatt Santa Barbara 1 Santa Barbara             - Now Category 4
12,000 Hyatt Hyatt Palm Springs 1 Palm Springs             -
40,000 United LAX-OGG 2X Maui 5
36,000 Hyatt Hyatt Regency Waikiki 2 Honolulu             -
                            - Hyatt Hyatt Regency Waikiki 1 Honolulu             - Hyatt CC Free Night
15,000 Hyatt Hyatt Santa Barbara 1 Santa Barbara             -
125,000 AA HNL-LAX-LHR BA First 2X One-way London 658  BA First fuel surcharges.
145,000 Hilton The Trafalgar London 4 London             -  AXON Award before devaluation
40,000 Marriott Residence Inn Munich 2 Munich             -
                            - Marriott Residence Inn Munich 1 Munich             - MegaBonus Free Night
29,800 Barclaycard Hotel Bavaria – Booking.com 2 Berchtesgaden             -
4,800 SPG/$ Sheraton Salzburg 1 Salzburg             - Used Barclay points to pay taxes
4,000 SPG/$ Sheraton Frankfurt Airport 1 Frankfurt             - Used Barclay points to pay taxes
100,000 United SZG-FRA-LAX LH Business 748i 2X One-way Frankfurt 250
75,000 Avios LAX-HNL 3X Round-trip Honolulu 15  Booked for family
                            - Hyatt Hyatt SB 1 Santa Barbara             -  Annual Free Nt. Cat 4
18,000 Southwest Burbank to Las Vegas 1 Las Vegas 10
120,000 United LAX-TPE EVA Air Business 2X One-way Taipei 205 $100 fee to switch to Kitty Jet
15,000 Hyatt Grand Hyatt Taipei 1 Taipei Paid 3,000 more for Club Room
15,000 Avios Cathay Pacific TPE-KIX 2X One-way Kyoto 73
36,000 Hyatt Hyatt Kyoto 2 Kyoto             -
38,000 Barclaycard Hiiragiya Bekkan Rykoan 1 Kyoto 0 Barclaycard Arrival
9,000 Avios Kyoto to Tokyo ITM-HND 2X One-Way 3 Cheap Taxes Intra-Japan
                            - Hilton Conrad Tokyo 2 Tokyo             - Citi Hilton Reserve 2 nts.
125,000 AA NRT-LAX JAL First Class 2X One-way Los Angeles 150
1,014,600 25 $1,369  Totals

I spent over a million points last year, with a majority of my points spent on three big trips to Hawaii, Europe, and North Asia.  I even booked 3 round-trip tickets to Hawaii for family.  I earned about 95% of my points and miles from credit card churning/manufactured spending/banking bonuses/shopping portals/buying and selling.  I’m also able to credit card churn and participate in bonuses on my wife’s account to accelerate our points/miles accumulation.  Only about 5% of my points I earned through work travel.  I also did not buy any points and miles last year (I’ve yet to travel on a US Airways award ticket surprisingly).

Reflecting on the chart above, I’m shocked/blessed on how much travel could be done for only $1,369. For the price of an economy round trip ticket to Asia during peak season, we were able to travel to Hawaii, London, Germany, Taipei, Kyoto, Tokyo on several business/first class flights and stay 25 nights in hotels.  I would never pay $6,000 to $10,000 on a business/first class flight or $400+ for a hotel night.

I think anybody with decent credit can replicate something similar to the above. Most of my points and miles were from applying for many credit cards I have on my site and manufactured spending.  However, you do need to put in some time, effort, and research.  2013 was the best year I’ve had since collecting points and miles.  I think 2014 will be a tougher year to get amazing value for travel, but don’t let that discourage you.  There will always be a way to travel nearly free with points and miles.  I’m excited for 2014 and my upcoming trips in the works! If anybody has any questions ask me below.

Save at least $400 on your next trip using one of my favorite credit cards, Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard! 40,000 points with no fee first year.

3 comments for “My Points, Miles, and Taxes Spent in 2013

  1. January 13, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Hi Rom

    I am going to Italy this year and wanted to know the best credit card
    to use to avoid foreign transaction fees.Hopefully you can recommend more than one card.
    thanks!!!

    • January 13, 2014 at 7:41 am

      In Italy, it is a lot easier to use a card with chip/pin function. The Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase British Airways, or Chase Hyatt credit cards are all great options without forex fees.

  2. Elena
    April 7, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Hi Rom,

    I found your blog today and find your posts very interesting to read. It’s amazing that you traveled to many places on points! I’m curious, did you happen to track how much annual fees, fees you paid for vanilla reloads/manufactured spend, etc. to get to that 1M points? What about booking fees? Thanks!

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