When we think about exotic destinations, we often think expensive – both in cash and points. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can save a lot of money without needing a ton of points.

Today, we’re going to look at how to get to French Polynesia with just two credit card welcome bonuses.

French Polynesia is known for some of its iconic islands, such as Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea. Each has its own personality and distinct characteristics, but travelers flock to all three.

You too can enjoy the pristine waters and beaches of French Polynesia with just two cards. We’re going to focus on Moorea and how you can easily get a trip to Moorea with two credit cards.

The Flight Card: The Platinum Card from American Express

The first step in your two card journey is getting there. To do that, you’re going to want to look at The Platinum Card from American Express.

The standard bonus on the Amex Platinum is 75,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first six months. You may even be able to get a welcome bonus of 100,000 points, but that’s not needed for this trip. A 75,000 point bonus is more than enough.

There are some great perks that come with the card that may help make your trip to French Polynesia even better. But first things first, you’ve got to put that welcome bonus to use!

Flying to French Polynesia with the Amex Platinum

To get to French Polynesia, we are going to use Air Canada’s Aeroplan. Air Canada is a member of Star Alliance which means you can book flights on all airlines in the Star Alliance. For getting to Tahiti (PPT), the main international airport in French Polynesia, we will use Air Canada to book a flight on United.

United flies direct to French Polynesia from their hub in San Francisco (SFO). To know how many points we will need, let’s take a look at the new Aeroplan award chart.

The new Aeroplan award chart prices flights based on the distance between two zones you’re travelling between. San Francisco is in the North America zone whereas Tahiti is in the Pacific Zone.

distance tool

Using the distance tool at Great Circle Mapper, we see that the flight comes in at 4,188 miles. This falls into the shortest distance of 0-5,000 miles on Aeroplan’s new award chart between North America and the Pacific.

aeroplan award chart

Since United is a partner airline, that means you’ll only need 35,000 points each way in economy. Therefore, your round-trip flights from San Francisco to Tahiti will only cost 70,000 points round-trip in economy.

united economy from SFO to Tahiti

To help with your journey, you can use your Amex Platinum to get Centurion Lounge access at San Francisco before departing. You may even be able to use the $200 incidental airline credit to cover the cost of seat selections for a seat with more legroom which many people would appreciate on the eight hour flight to Tahiti.

The Card for Your Polynesian Paradise

Now that you’ve used one card to get to French Polynesia, you need another to stay there. Enter the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

 

The current bonus on the Hilton Aspire Card is 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. Additionally, you’ll earn one free weekend night award with the card and HIlton Diamond status.

You’ll be putting that free weekend night to good use in Moorea.

With the added bonus of Hilton Diamond status, you’ll be eligible for room upgrades and free breakfast. Food prices in far off destinations like Moorea can be pretty pricey, $25-50 per person isn’t out of the question. Being able to save that expense during your stay will definitely make your wallet happy.

Your Oasis: Hilton Moorea

Hilton Moorea

Hilton Moorea (image courtesy of Hilton Hotels)

The Hilton is located on the island of Moorea, about 10 miles away from the capital of Tahiti.

The resort has a mixture of rooms including the classic Polynesian overwater bungalows as well as rooms on the island.

King Garden Guest Room at Hilton Moorea

King Garden Guest Room at Hilton Moorea (image courtesy of Hilton Hotels)

The standard rate is 80,000 points per night for a King Garden Guest Room. Don’t fret if you want a stay in an overwater bungalow, as Hilton Diamond members often report being upgraded to an overwater bungalow. It isn’t guaranteed, but if there’s availability, you should be staying overwater during your time in French Polynesia.

Overwater Bungalow at Hilton Moorea

Overwater Bungalow at Hilton Moorea (image courtesy of Hilton Hotels)

You’ll be able to dine at the only overwater restaurant on the island, step out into the water to swim with stingrays and abundant marine life, or relax at the spa.

How to Make It All Work

To make your trip to French Polynesia work with two cards, you’ll transfer 70,000 Membership Rewards to Air Canada Aeroplan to book your round-trip flights on United from San Francisco.

You’ll transfer the remaining 5,000 Membership Rewards to Hilton Hotels. You’ll earn 2,000 Hilton Honors points for every 1,000 Membership Rewards you transfer. This means you’ll end up with a total of 160,000 Hilton Honors points – enough to book two nights at 80,000 points per night. Combine this with your free weekend night certificate you earned from the Hilton Honors Aspire card and you’ll get 3 nights in paradise.

Two cards, three nights, one great trip to French Polynesia!

Bonus: Three Card Trip

Let’s face it, for many people 3 nights just isn’t enough in French Polynesia. That’s totally fair! Who wouldn’t want to spend as much time as possible in paradise.

If you want to extend your trip just a little bit longer, you’ll need one more card. For starters, you’ll have the points you earned from the minimum spend towards the sign up bonuses. On the Amex Platinum, you’ll really have an extra 5,000 Membership Rewards since you had to spend $5,000 to get the 75,000 points bonus.

Additionally, the Hilton Honors Aspire card earns 3X points on all purchases. With the $4,000 minimum spend, that’s 12,000 more points. When you transfer the extra 5,000 Membership Rewards, you’ll have 22,000 more Hilton Points.

To really extend your trip, I’d recommend opening a third card, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card. The card comes with an additional 130,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Even better, this card earns 6X Hilton points for purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets. You’ll still get 3X additional points for all other purchases.

If you split the sign up bonus between these 6X categories and 3X categories, you’ll get an additional 139,000 points – 130,000 points from the bonus, 6,000 from spending $1,000 at the 6X categories and 3,000 from the standard 3X categories.

Combined with the other 22,000 points, you’re at 161,000 points. That’s enough for two more nights at the Hilton Moorea.

But of course, I wouldn’t just leave you there. With your Hilton Diamond status, you’ll get your 5th night free on award stays. Since you now have enough points for four nights, you’ll be able to book five nights. Add on the free weekend night and you’ll get 6 nights – doubling your stay in Moorea.

Final Thoughts

Traveling to French Polynesia is on many people’s bucket list. While most look to Bora Bora, Moorea is a solid choice to stretch your points as far as possible.

With just two cards, the American Express Platinum and the Hilton Honors Aspire Card, you can fly and spend 3 nights in paradise. As a little bonus, with a third card you can extend your stay to 6 nights. Because really, who wouldn’t want to spend as much time as possible in paradise?