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.
|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||–|
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.
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!