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How I Did It: $35,619 Honeymoon in Thailand for $914.60

Hey team, Curtis here.

Earlier this year, I got married to my beautiful wife Nicole and went on the honeymoon of a lifetime. It was a two-week vacation to Phuket/Chiang Mai, Thailand and Tokyo, Japan. Needless to say, it was amazing and simply wouldn’t have been possible without the power of points and miles.

I want to share my experience so you can see how this is also possible for you.

All you need is a little planning, a decent credit score (680+), a little help from the 10xT community, and you can literally save thousands of dollars on travel.

Nicole and Curtis Riding Elephants

Not going to lie – I copied a lot of Bryce’s honeymoon route because it was awesome. (plus, the fact that he got a $28,000 trip for only $326 didn’t hurt)

(Side note: if you’re just starting to think about your honeymoon, check out 7 Tips For Choosing Your Honeymoon Destination)

There are 3 key points to remember:

  1. Start planning and earning early and you’ll have more options
  2. Let your travel goals determine which cards, and in what order, are necessary
  3. If you can dream up a trip, this approach can get you there

 

The Honeymoon

First, here’s a quick rundown of our honeymoon:

  • Cleveland to Chicago O’Hare
  • Chicago O’Hare to Phuket, Thailand
  • Westin Siray Bay Resort – Phuket, Thailand
  • Phuket, Thailand to Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Le Meridien – Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand to Tokyo, Japan
  • Park Hyatt – Tokyo, Japan
  • Tokyo, Japan to Cleveland

Ok, let’s jump into the good stuff.

1) Flight: Cleveland to Chicago O’Hare

  • Credit Card Utilized: Citi ThankYou Premier Card
  • Points Used: 22,736 Citi ThankYou points
  • Cost Out of Pocket: $0
  • Cost Without Points: $227.36

The first honeymoon priority was booking an amazing business class flight to Phuket. After seeing Bryce’s flights, there’s no way we could start any different.

There were only a few flights departing from Cleveland and they either didn’t work with our schedule and/or were already full of business class reward travelers – so we had to book departing from Chicago O’Hare. This is frequently referred to as “repositioning”.

Not a problem since we started planning early.

We could have flown Southwest with my 110k+ miles and companion pass for almost nothing but it would have meant flying into Chicago Midway and then trekking over to O’Hare, which would have been extremely inconvenient – especially with international luggage.

We chose to utilize Citi ThankYou points. For 22,736 points, we booked two tickets to O’Hare through the Citi ThankYou portal.

We earned the Citi ThankYou points by both grabbing the Citi ThankYou Premier card, which provided a 50,000 point bonus at the time.

Citi ThankYou Point Redemption:

CLE to ORD - ThankYou Point Redemption

 

2) Flight: Chicago O’Hare to Phuket, Thailand

  • Credit Cards Utilized: Chase Sapphire Preferred, United MileagePlus Explorer
  • Points Used: 160,000 United Miles
  • Cost Out of Pocket: $29.00
  • Cost Without Points: $22,619.40

This was one of the many highlights of the trip.

International business class flights are simply amazing and make you never want to go back. Lay flat seats, good food and drink, private restrooms, etc.

Curtis in Business Class

I needed 160,000 United miles so I opened the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which had a 50,000 Ultimate Rewards point sign-up bonus at the time. I also opened United MileagePlus Explorer card that had a 50,000 United mile sign-up bonus at the time.

I transferred these Ultimate Rewards points to United and combined normal and manufactured spending to earn the remaining United miles I needed for the flights.

United Flight Point Redemption:

United - ORD to HKT - Point Redemption

United Flight Actual Cost:

United - ORD to HKT - Points and Actual Cost

 

3) Hotel: Westin Siray Bay Resort – Phuket, Thailand (4 Nights)

  • Credit Card Utilized: Starwood Preferred Guest Card
  • Points Used: 28,000 SPG
  • Cost Out of Pocket: $0
  • Cost Without Points: $420.44

We stayed at the beautiful Westin Siray Bay and since all 4 nights were already covered with points we upgraded to a full suite with a private infinity pool on the balcony that overlooked the sea for only an additional $51 per night!

Nicole and I both opened the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card when the sign-up bonus was 30,000 points. We then used 28,000 of my SPG points to book this amazing stay.

Infinity Pool2

Infinity Pool

Phuket – Westin Siray Bay Point Redemption:

Phuket - Westin Siray Bay - Point Redemption

Phuket – Westin Siray Bay Actual Cost:

Phuket - Westin Siray Bay - Actual Cost

 

4) Flight: Phuket, Thailand to Chiang Mai, Thailand

  • Credit Card Utilized: Citi ThankYou Premier Card
  • Points Used: 22,368 Citi ThankYou points
  • Cost Out of Pocket: $0
  • Cost Without Points: $223.68

This was another flight we were able to purchase utilizing the rest of my Citi ThankYou points via the ThankYou travel portal.

Again, these 22,368 ThankYou points were earned from the Citi ThankYou Premier card I opened. At the time, it offered a 50,000 ThankYou point signup bonus.

Citi ThankYou Point Redemption:

HKT to CNX - ThankYou Point Redemption

 

5) Hotel: Le Meridien – Chiang Mai, Thailand (3 nights)

  • Credit Card Utilized: Starwood Preferred Guest Card
  • Points Used: 21,000 SPG
  • Cost Out of Pocket: $0
  • Cost Without Points: $414.10

Chiang Mai was an absolute blast. Food, tigers, elephants, drinks, massages and shopping. I highly recommend it!

We stayed at the perfectly located Le Meridien and loved it.

We used 21,000 SPG points from Nicole’s Starwood Preferred Guest account which we earned from the 30,000 Starwood Preferred Guest credit card sign-up bonus (at the time).

A great feature of SPG is that it allows you to transfer points between family members at a one-to-one ratio. We transferred her 30,000 SPG points to my account so we could have all the bookings through one account.

LeMeridien

LeMeridien3

Elephants2

Chiang Mai – Le Meridien Point Redemption:

Chiang Mai - Le Meridien - Point Redemption

Chiang Mai – Le Meridien Actual Cost:

Chiang Mai - Le Meridien - Actual Cost

 

6) Flight: Chiang Mai, Thailand to Tokyo, Japan

Unfortunately, we had to pay the full price of $706.56 for this flight because we didn’t plan everything perfectly. But the luxury that we have in this hobby is that you now have the ability to pay for upgrades, experiences or, if need be, full priced last minute tickets without worrying much because of all the money you have already saved!

 

7) Hotel: Park Hyatt – Tokyo, Japan (4 nights)

  • Credit Card Utilized: Chase Hyatt Card
  • Points Used: 4 free nights
  • Cost Out of Pocket: $0
  • Cost Without Points: $1,823.08

The Park Hyatt was a beautiful hotel with great views in in the middle of Shinjuku and was just a short walk to the train station and tons of restaurants.

Interesting facts: they filmed Lost in Translation here and the hotel lobby is on the 41st floor.

We were able to get four free nights the Park Hyatt that regularly goes for over $600 per night by using four free night certificates.

The sign-up bonus for this card, at the time, was two free nights at any Hyatt property in the world. I booked the first two nights and then Nicole booked the second two. When we checked at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, we merged the reservations.

Park Hyatt Pool

Sushi

Tokyo

Tokyo Park Hyatt 4 Free Nights Redemption:

Tokyo - Park Hyatt - Point Redemption

Tokyo Park Hyatt Actual Cost:

Tokyo - Park Hyatt - Actual Cost

8) Flight: Tokyo, Japan -> Cleveland

  • Credit Card Utilized: Citi AAdvantage, Citi AAdvantage World Elite, US Airways Barclaycard
  • Points Used: 160,000 American Airlines points
  • Cost Out of Pocket: $89.60
  • Cost Without Points: $9,890.00

Ahhh, nothing like going back to flying Economy after having Business class lie flat seats only 2 weeks earlier. At least it was one of AA’s newer planes.

I was able to acquire the 160,000 AA miles through some normal spending and the sign-up bonuses of the following cards: Citi AAdvantage (50,000 AA miles at the time), Citi AAdvantage World Elite (50,000 AA miles at the time), and the US Airways Barclaycard (50,000 AA miles at the time).

AA Point Redemption:

AA - NRT to CLE - Point Redemption

AA Actual Cost:

AA - NRT to CLE - Actual Cost

Well, there you have it folks – how we booked $35,619 of Honeymoon travel for only $914.60.

I hope this was helpful and inspires you to start planning your next vacation TODAY.

See you in the 10xT FB group!

Cheers,

Curtis

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