My Points and Miles Spent in 2014 – Best Year Yet!

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2014 was my most travelled year so far.  I took 3 big international trips last year to Hong Kong, Bora Bora, and Japan.  I used points and miles for every flight and almost every hotel stay.  I planned most of my big international trips around 8-11 months prior because I know when my wife will have her school breaks and our dates are limited.  In order to get the dates you want, you MUST book early or take a chance and wait until last minute availability.  I compiled an excel list of all my points and miles spent in 2014.

Date Points Spent Program Flight/Hotel Nights Destination Taxes Notes
3/3/14 140,000 United 2X LAX-ICN-HKG Asiana First Class One-way Hong Kong 12 Before United Devaluation
3/4/14 60,000 Hyatt Hyatt Tsim Sha Tsui Hong Kong 4 Hong Kong
3/8/14 70,000 AA 2X HKG-LAX Cathay Pacific Economy One-way Los Angeles 70 Economy 🙁
4/18/14 AA 2X LAX-HNL First Class One-way Honolulu Free One-way LAX-HNL (old rules)
4/19/14 34,000 Virgin Atlantic 2X HNL-PPT Hawaiian Airlines Economy One-way Papeete 25 AMEX MR Transferred to Virgin Atlantic
4/19/14 16,000 Barclaycard Tahiti Airport Motel 1 Papeete
4/20/14 80,000 Barclaycard 2x PPT-BOB Roundtrip Bora Bora
4/20/14 50,000 IHG Points Intercontinental Le Moana Bora Bora 1 Bora Bora
4/21/14 200,000 IHG Points Intercontinental Thalasso 4 Bora Bora
4/25/14 75,000 AA 2x PPT-LAX Air Tahiti Nui Economy One-way Los Angeles 75 Free One-way LAX-YYZ (old rules)
6/25/14 50,000 Avios 2x LAX-OGG AA Economy Roundtrip Maui 10
6/25/14 Airbnb Maui 6 Maui 500 Paid Cash (forgot to apply Barclay points)
7/11/14 AA 2x LAX-YYZ AA Economy One-Way Toronto Free One-way LAX-YYZ (old rules)
7/14/14 9,000 Avios 2x YYZ-LGA AA Economy One-Way New York City 55
7/14/14 42,000 Wyndham Wyndham New Yorker Hotel 3 New York City 131.25 Wyndham points bought at 0.3 cents each/Hotel temporarily 14K per night
7/17/14 50,000 Club Carlson Radisson Martinique 2 New York City
7/19/14 AA 2x JFK-LAX AA Business Class One-Way Los Angeles Free One-way JFK-LAX-NRT
12/4/14 40,000 Delta 1x LAX-MCO Delta Economy Roundtrip Orlando 11.2 Fly Wife out to Disney World
12/25/14 100,000 AA 2x LAX-NRT JAL Business Class One-Way Tokyo 15
12/26/14 36,000 Hyatt Hyatt Regency Tokyo 3 Tokyo
12/29/14 25,300 Barclaycard Yumoto Fujiya Hotel Hakone 1 Hakone
12/30/14 30,000 Hyatt Park Hyatt Tokyo 1 Tokyo
12/31/14 25,000 Hyatt Grand Hyatt Tokyo 1 Tokyo
1/1/15 50,000 AA 2x HND-HNL(stop 2 nights)-LAX Honolulu/Los Angeles 81 Free stopover (old rules)
1/1/15 24,000 Hyatt Hyatt Place Waikiki 2 Honolulu
Totals 1,206,300 29 $985

I spent 29 nights away from home, redeemed 1,206,300 points/miles, and spent $985 in taxes and fees last year!  In 2013 I spent 25 nights away from home, redeemed 1,014,600 miles, and spent $1,369.  I did better this year partly because I better utilized both our Barclaycard Arrival credit cards and applied for different versions of the Chase Ink credit cards.

For flights, I maximized the use of the AA free-stopover trick that allowed a free stopover at a domestic hub when returning or departing the country.  My free stopover city would be Los Angeles, where I live, and I would take a free-one way a couple months later.  I used the trick 3 times, and I am sad that this trick is no longer available.  Also, this year United raised its business and first class award redemption rates, but I was able to take first class for 70K one-way before the devaluation.  I ended up taking Cathay Pacific economy class on the way back because I could not find business or first availability for my specific date and my time schedule was very limited.  Taking Cathay Pacific economy is not that bad, everyone else does it who doesn’t collect points and miles :).

British Airways Avios was great use last year too because I booked Toronto to New York City for only 4,500 miles, a ticket which would retail at about $400 per person.  I also booked 4 tickets from LAX to Maui roundtrip for us and our two friends at 25,000 miles per piece.  They offered us $450 per ticket (going price was about $650), so actually our hotel expense was covered for the trip.  So my excel chart should really be about $85 if you count $900 from two tickets booked.  

For hotels, we stayed at Hyatt hotels a lot because I have Diamond status from work.  Also, Hyatt has some great rates on hotels such as Hyatt Regency Tokyo for 12K per night and Hyatt Place Waikiki for 12K per night.  These two rates on these two hotels are a steal. Some of our other Hyatt redemptions like Park Hyatt Tokyo and Grand Hyatt Tokyo were splurge redemptions just to try out the hotel.

Club Carlson has perhaps the best hotel program if you can take advantage of their buy one get one free redemption and are staying in a city with Club Carlson hotels.

Our Bora Bora hotels were from 2x 80K IHG Chase credit card offers and 2 mattress runs.  I should probably have added about $200 for the mattress runs I did to complete the IHG Big Win promotion that gave me about 86,000 points.  I had some work stays to help me finish the Big Win, so that was nice.  I booked these Bora Bora hotels about 9 months out, so I got lucky with the availability.

Conclusion

My points and miles redemptions have improved each year the better I plan and the more I read through forums and blogs.  The key is to plan early, keep signing up for credit cards (helps if you have a spouse), and diversify your points and miles.  You never know when there will be great points or miles redemption deals.  It would be a shame if you didn’t have the miles and there was a mistake in award rates.  2015 will be a tougher year to redeem points and miles because of the several devaluations in 2014.  However, stick around keep reading, and follow some other blogs to take advantage of the current deals and strategies. Hope you all have a good 2015!

3 comments for “My Points and Miles Spent in 2014 – Best Year Yet!

  1. IL
    January 7, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Well done, Romin! The predictability of your long-term schedule, and your ability to stick to your plans allowed you to get in on great availability.

    Of the three Hyatts, which one did you enjoy the most and which one gave you the best diamond recognition?

    I did a last minute getaway to the Regency in Tahoe last week and it was fabulous. Highly recommend it if you’re looking to burn points in Tahoe in a quality property.

    • January 8, 2015 at 9:02 am

      I actually enjoyed the Grand Hyatt Tokyo the best because of the location and the lounge was great. Park Hyatt did give me good Diamond recognition (free happy hour, spa access, and breakfast in restaurant), but the location was not great and I’m not into the upscale service as much. Good to know about Tahoe, I live about an 8 hour drive away.. maybe in the future 🙂

  2. John
    January 10, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Hi Romin, impressive! I am very curious how you actually accumulates that many points/miles?! From my understanding, signing up credit cards to get 1 million miles take at least 2-3 years, and yet you have 1 million per year to spend! How did you do that?

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