BLOG

Conrad Maldives - Water Villa 1

Conrad Maldives Water Villa

I haven't updated my blog for exactly 1 year so I thought it was time for me to get back into it!

You may ask – have I lost my passion in all things points and miles related because I haven't updated in a while? I can say emphatically NO!!!!!! I've been learning and studying every day and week the best strategies to earn and accumulate frequent flyer points and then also personally redeeming it for my family to travel on what many could say once-in-a-lifetime trips – but I know we have many more to come. The reason I haven't been updating it is because I've been busy travelling everywhere and also starting my own business (not travel related) with my business partner.

Japan Airlines First Class - Caviar

Japan Airlines First Class Dining - Caviar

Over the last year I have travelled to many places with my family and also going solo. They include the following:

1. San Francisco
2. San Diego
3. Los Angeles
4. Dallas
5. Chicago
6. Hong Kong
7. Tokyo
8. Kuala Lumpur
9. Singapore
10. Manila
11. London
12. Gold Coast
13. Melbourne
14. Canberra

To top if off – we also travelled to Maldives with my family for our 10th year wedding anniversary! That was an experience in itself.

Conrad Maldives - Water Villa 2

Conrad Maldives - Family Water Villa Bedroom

All this was done mostly either in First Class or Business Class for our family. All the hotels we stay at were in mostly suites or upgrade rooms with Executive Lounges and special privileges. How do we do it? All because of what Credit Card Points and Frequent Flyer points can do for us.

We have travelled in the following Airlines and Classes:

1. Cathay Pacific First Class
2. Cathay Pacific Business Class
3. Japan Airlines First Class
4. Japan Airlines Business Class
5. British Airways First Class
6. British Airways Club World (Business Class)
7. American Airlines First Class
8. Singapore Airlines Business Class
9. Air Asia Economy

British Airways First Class Seat 1

British Airways First Class

 

Cathay Pacific First Class Flight - Seat 1

Cathay Pacific First Class

 

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge - Cabana

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge - Cabana

 

Japan Airlines - First Class Seat 1

Japan Airlines First Class

 

Japan Airlines - First Class Seat 2

Japan Airlines First Class Entertainment Unit

Singapore Airlines Business Class Dining

Singapore Airlines Business Class Dining

Now Air Asia seems out of place doesn't it? My theory is that I can hack short distances – by that I mean under 9 hours – and if the airfare is really cheap – then I go ahead with it.

The following are the places we have stayed at over the last year:

1. Conrad Maldives – beach villa and Family Water Villa
2. Grand Hyatt Singapore – Suite
3. Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur – Suite
4. Hotel Jen Maldives – upgraded room to higher floor
5. Hyatt Regency Tokyo – Suite
6. Hyatt Place Anaheim
7. Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
8. Novotel Kowloon – upgraded room to high floor
9. Hyatt Regency Shatin, Hong Kong – Suite
10. Doubletree Ealing – London
11. Hyatt Regency Dallas Fort Worth – Suite
12. Loew's O'Hare in Chicago
13. Sofitel So – Singapore
14. Hilton Narita Airport
15. Hilton Surfers Paradise – Ocean View 2 Bedroom Apartment
16. Grand Hyatt Melbourne – Suite
17. Hyatt Canberra – Suite

Conrad Maldives - Water Villa 4

Conrad Maldives Water Villas

 

Thoughts on Airlines/Frequent Flyer Programs

I use several different Frequent Flyer programs to fly – they include AAdvantage (American Airlines), Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific), Krisflyer (Singapore Airlines), Qantas Frequent Flyer and Alaska Mileage (Alaska Airlines).

Over the last year there have been the usual award chart devaluations such as AAdvantage – but in my opinion is still very valuable and effective. Personally I would buy the points when there is a bonus to fly to Asia from Australia in Business or First Class.

I've been understanding the Krisflyer program more and more and what the limitations are – but more on what it can provide a frequent flyer. There are some special "tricks" you could use to fly cheaper say to Tahiti or a side trip(stopover) which allows you to spend more time in another country.

Since I am in Sydney – we effectively have 2 frequent flyer programs that majority of people would accumulate points in – that is Qantas or Velocity (Virgin Australia). With many more opportunities to earn points through shopping and restaurant booking portals – you could potentially accelerate your points much further than you could dream of. So today I am earning points probably 5 times faster than I was a year ago. There are other strategies that could be used to accelerate your points exponentially faster as well.

Some people still ask me if it is worth redeeming points for economy. In most cases I will always say no – simply if you are going to redeem your Qantas points in Economy to Singapore for example – you are not getting much value at all. For example it costs 56,000 points for an economy return ticket from Sydney to Singapore on Qantas. When you redeem your points you still have to pay tax of $400. When on special Qantas sells economy tickets to Singapore for around $600.

So that means 56,000 Qantas points is equal to $200. Now you need 120,000 points to fly in Business class – but taxes are either the same or only a bit higher – around $500. Business Class seats are around $5000. So that means 120,000 points is valued at around $4500 (excluding the tax).

See below

Redeeming in Economy
56,000 = $200
This tells me that each point is valued at 0.35 cents when you redeem it in this scenario

Redeeming in Business Class
120,000 = $4500
This tells me that each point is valued at 3.75 cents when you redeem it in this scenario

So you are comparing 3.75 cents to 0.3 cents. Therefore when I am redeeming Business Class I am getting a whopping 12.5 times more value when redeeming it for Business Class.

This tells me that redeeming in Economy class is a NO-NO!!!!!! Only in extreme circumstances would I ever suggest economy redemption.

Credit Cards Points

The credit card industry here in Australia has changed a lot due to the Reserve back limiting and reducing interchange/merchant fees. What does this mean? It means all credit cards (excluding American Express - Direct cards) earn less points and many also have a cap on how many points you can earn.

What does this mean for me? Doesn't affect me much as majority of my credit cards are American Express Issued cards which doesn't change my earn rate. It does affect my Visa card though – but I have different strategies to use so that I can pay with my American Express the majority of times.

With the combination of credit cards I have – I can easily earn 6 to 10 times more points for every dollar I spend than most people who just use their Visa card.

So by combining my custom points earning strategy and then also redeeming it for business class or first class flights – I am getting at least 100 TIMES MORE VALUE than the average person (or 99.9% of the population). This isn't an exaggeration also.

That's why knowing the VALUE OF POINTS and the power it can provide you in your travel needs will provide experiences that many people can only dream of.

Out of every 100 people I speak to – I would be lucky to find 1 person who actually is as passionate about earning points and then redeeming it for flights and hotels that is unattainable to most people as I am.

Is Status worth it?

Personally for me – status with airlines is not worth it. I don't strive for it. Why? Since I have a considerable points balance in both my credit cards and frequent flyer programs – I only redeem for Business and First class seats. This provides me all the privileges as if I actually had status – such as Priority check-in line, Airport Lounge and extra baggage allowance.

Now Hotel Status is another story! Over the last year I have top-grade to mid-grade status in most of the loyalty programs

1. Hyatt Diamond Status
2. Hilton Diamond Status
3. IHG Platinum Elite Status
4. Accor Platinum Status
5. Club Carlson Gold Status
6. Shangri-La Jade Status
7. Starwood SPG Gold Status

To gain hotel status does not require you to stay at hotels. There are different techniques you could implement to get you status.

We have stayed at several different hotel brands over the last few years so I have accumulated quite a large amount of points in several different programs.

But I would have to say that my 2 go-to hotel brands we stay at is Hyatt and Hilton. Usually we would stay at Hyatt – but if that is not available then we would stay at a Hilton branded hotel. Hilton has a massive footprint around the world while Hyatt is more limited.

What does a Hotel status bring you? It gives you free Buffet Breakfast, Upgraded room, Executive Lounge access and also GUARANTEED SUITE UPGRADES in a couple of the programs.

We used to stay at the Langham Place, Mongkok in Hong Kong (now called Cordis). But I simply refuse to stay at any more places where the hotel loyalty program is atrocious or even non-existent and does not allow you to accumulate any points in that hotel program. So all my business is going to actual hotel chains now.

My aim is always to pay for the base room (or the most discounted room) – but then get upgrades and privileges that most people never get. This is all due to leveraging my experience with hotel loyalty programs. Or paying $100 a night in cash (or credit card of course!!!) and getting a $1500 a night room!!!!

Conclusion

Each year I take my knowledge and application of credit card points, frequent flyer programs and hotel status programs to a new level – providing luxurious experiences for my family for a tiny fraction of the exact cost.

I intend to provide more updates in regards to the industry and also from a personal point of view. Points and miles is my passion, without it I could never dream to fly in First Class and stay in 5 Star Hotel Suites consistently – and I will pay less than most people's economy flights and basic 3 star hotel rooms. It all comes down how much you want to change your travelling experience and how much you can change your mindset to say you CAN DO SOMETHING rather than being lazy and not doing anything.