By 10xT Reader Robby M
In July 2017, I came across the 10xTravel Facebook group. The only credit card I had ever opened was a Frontier MasterCard (a great first card, I know) and wasn’t too familiar with the points and miles game.
I read the free e-book, immediately took a deep dive into the Facebook group, and was reading every post and every comment to find out all that I could learn. A few weeks later, I started planning our epic European honeymoon on miles and points.
While I started by opening Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points, I didn’t actually end up using those points for our honeymoon. Instead, I used points and miles from several other programs including American AAdvantage, Capital One, Marriott, Barclays, and Citi miles.
As you might imagine, weddings aren’t cheap so we used the expenses to meet minimum spend requirements for several cards. I figured if I was paying that much, I was going to get something out of it!
Los Angeles (LAX)
Our trip started with a flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Dublin (DUB) with a connection in London (LHR). We used 60,000 American miles that were earned with the Barclays Red Aviator Card. At the time, the card offered a 10% rebate of the miles used, which dropped the total to 54,000 miles. Unfortunately, this is no longer a benefit of the card.
Because I have Gold Status with American, we were lucky enough to get upgraded to Main Cabin Extra seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. The extra room and free liquor made for an easy flight across the Atlantic! We also used our Priority Pass Select membership from The Platinum Card from American Express to cover $58 in food at P.F. Chang’s!
Editor’s Note: The Priority Pass Select membership that comes with the Amex Platinum will no longer cover partner restaurants as of August 1, 2019.
These 2 exact one-way tickets would have cost $6,050, but we only paid $50 total in taxes/fees. I never would have paid $3,000 a ticket for economy, but that is what the exact flight cost was when I looked it up on the American Airlines website.
After a smooth flight, we checked into the Marriott Shelbourne Hotel for 3 nights in Dublin. I booked before Marriott reconfigured its award rates so the 3 nights cost us a total of 135,000 points at 45,000 points per night.
I have Titanium Elite status with Marriott and reached out to the Shelbourne to let them know that we’d be celebrating our honeymoon. They were kind enough to upgrade us to a one-bedroom studio suite and leave us a nice welcome note with macarons. My wife was so surprised and we love the special touch!
Because of my status, we received free breakfast, and it was some of the best food that I had on the trip! We were there for St. Patrick’s Day and the hotel was in a perfect location to sightsee all around Dublin. The actual rate for our room would have been $2,250, but thanks to the points we earned with the old SPG Amex card, it didn’t cost us a penny.
Editor’s Note: The SPG Amex cards have since been rebranded and relaunched as Marriott Bonvoy cards.
After 3 nights in Dublin, we used 2,600 Capital One miles that I earned with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card to erase the $26 train ride to Galway.
We checked into the Park House Hotel for a 3-night stay, which I booked during a Black Friday special on Expedia — 75% off! The Hotel would have cost $426, but with the awesome Black Friday deal, it only cost me $116. I paid with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus so I could erase the purchase with 11,654 Arrival miles.
The Hotel was in no way a luxury hotel but it was right next to downtown Galway. We enjoyed traditional Irish pub music and visited the Cliffs of Moher!
To get back to Dublin Airport, I used 4,500 Capital One miles to erase our bus trip which would have cost $45. We flew Aer Lingus from Dublin to Paris (CDG) and paid $146 out of pocket. Because I used my Amex Platinum to pay for the flights, I earned 5X Membership Rewards points. After spending some time in the lounge thanks to my Priority Pass Select membership, we were on our way to Paris!
Thanks to another Black Friday Expedia deal — this time for 90% off — I was able to book L’Hotel du Collectionneur for $163 for 3 nights which I erased with 16,390 Capital One miles. The going rate on the hotel website for the exact room we stayed in was $1,801.
Although our room was fairly standard, we were still upgraded to a bigger room with a view of the courtyard. We used our time in Paris to explore the local sights, take a trip to Versailles, and a trip to Disneyland Paris. Because of the protests that happen on Saturdays, Champs de Elysee was basically shut down, and we were some of the only people walking down the street. That was the most surreal experience of the whole trip, as it was virtually silent and felt like a total ghost town.
After our 3 nights in Paris, we took the RER train to Disney Paris and spent the day enjoying the amazing rides. Paris Space Mountain has 3 loops, and their Thunder Mountain goes underground!
We took a direct Eurostar train from Disney Paris to London St. Pancreas Station. The $162 train ride was erased by 16,200 Arrival miles.
After our 2.5-hour train ride under the English Channel, we checked into what is easily one of my favorite hotels: The London Marriott Park Lane. This is the kind of 5-star hotel experience that wouldn’t have been an option without points.
We booked a room for 60,000 Marriott points per night for a total of 240,000 points — the 5th night is free when booking on points. Again, we were upgraded to a 1 bedroom executive suite with a chocolate cake and wine waiting for us on arrival!
The going rate was $1,590 a night, meaning our 5-night stay would have cost $7,950! Titanium Elite status also meant that we had access to the executive lounge where they had a daily buffet breakfast, afternoon snacks, and nightly wine and beer for our enjoyment.
We visited all of the palaces and castles in the area, took a tour of the Harry Potter Warner Brother Studios, and had amazing afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason.
After our 5 nights, we made our way east for one night to watch the West Ham United vs. Everton match. We stayed at the Westbridge Hotel for 1 night in East London (Stratford) on a rate booked through another Expedia Black Friday sale. Our $154 hotel room only cost $60 and I used 6,028 points from my Barclays Rewards card (downgraded from my original Frontier Mastercard) to cover the cost.
This was a pretty uneventful hotel, but it put us within walking distance of the Olympic Stadium so we could enjoy the pregame festivities — by that I mean, drink a few pints. Although West Ham lost 2-0 it was still an amazing experience, and well worth the trip east!
The next morning, we took the Eurostar train from St. Pancreas Station in London to Brussels Midi station for the last leg of our 18 day European Honeymoon.
We used 12,220 Capital One miles to erase the $122 train ticket. We checked into the Marriott Hotel Grand Place in Brussels and were upgraded to a studio suite with an amazing view of the Brussels Stock Exchange, steps from the Grand Place.
Because the nightly rate was only $180 per night, I paid with my Venture and used 35,900 miles to erase the $359 charge.
After the upgrade to our room, our 2-night stay was worth $809, with access to the executive lounge with free breakfast and nightly free drinks. Because I paid “cash” for the room, I also earned 13,850 miles.
After a chocolate making seminar and consuming our weight in beer, waffles, and fries, it was time to make our way back home to Los Angeles.
Flying Back Home with United Airlines
For our flight on United from Brussels (BRU) to Los Angeles with a connection in Chicago (ORD), I transferred 55,000 Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore KrisFlyer. I earned the ThankYou Points with the Citi Premier card.
The total fees for this flight were $120 and we were upgraded to Economy Plus because of my United Silver status — a benefit provided to those with Marriott Titanium status.
As we found out, our seats were actually in premium economy on a retrofitted aircraft but, at the time, they were still classified as Economy Plus sets. Needless to say, we quite enjoyed being able to stretch out a bit. The out of pocket cost for these two flights would have been $5,230 for the one-way ticket.
Overall, the total cost for this trip would have been $25,186, but we only paid $316. The total miles I used for the trip:
- 56,000 American miles
- 78,948 Capital One miles
- 315,000 Marriott points
- 28,044 Arrival miles
- 55,000 Citi ThankYou Points
This was an unbelievable experience that would have never been possible without the help from the 10xTravel team.
Disclosure: 10xTravel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. 10xTravel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. You can read our advertiser disclosure here.