Our reader success story comes from Justine who planned an amazing honeymoon on points/miles to the Maldives and Japan. Here’s her story:
My [now] husband and I got engaged in March of 2021, and I immediately went into brainstorming an epic honeymoon (before wedding planning even ). We already had traveled a ton together, so I knew I wanted to really set this trip apart from any other.
Luckily came across Alex and Pam on Instagram of Travel Hacking Mom and reached out to them for some general questions regarding credit cards and travel hacking. I did an online consultation and discussed the Maldives being our dream honeymoon destination. Alex and Pam were able to guide me on strategies and what credit cards would help get us there.
Alex had also been planning a trip to the Maldives for 2022, and honestly, I just wanted to try and copy her trip since, at the time, I had no idea what I was doing. She shared how she booked Qatar Qsuites through American Airlines points.
I opened for both of us the Barclays American Airlines Aviator Red Mastercard, which had a 60k signup bonus. We were still short 10k points each for the flights, so I then opened the Citi Premier card for us both. At the time, they allowed transferring of points to AA, so I transferred 10k to each of our AA accounts for 70k total.
I searched a ton and was so excited when I found reward flights! Since Maldives requires two layovers from California no matter what, I really wanted to fly out of Ontario vs. LAX. In May 2022, I found and booked our flights Ontario-Dallas-Doha. I booked Doha-Male separately and had to call AA Australia to combine the reservation (THM helped me figure this out). Hands down, this was the BEST flight experience…from the service to the comfort, it really made the long travel time feel like nothing.
Again copying Alex, I needed Marriott points to book Le Meridien Maldives. Luckily, I already had the Chase Sapphire card with about 150k points. For 5 nights at Le Meridien, I needed 212k points. I opened the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business card with a 100k bonus. I transferred 112k Chase Ultimate Rewards to my Marriott account and was able to book the 5 nights (book 4 nights and the 5th is free).
I wanted to see 2 different hotels/islands and wanted to try the Alila, but they only had 2 nights available for a beach villa. Instead, I booked the next 3 nights at the Westin by using 175k Marriott points (a lot of points, but the cash price would have been over $5000). I used the welcome bonus from my husband’s Chase Sapphire as well as some of the welcome bonus from my American Express Gold card (transferred to Marriott) to book.
Even though we saved a ton by using points, unfortunately, there is no way around the seaplane costs, which ran us about $500-$650 a person PER hotel. But I’m so glad we got to see two different resorts, and we loved both! We stayed in overwater bungalows in both and were blown away by the hospitality, food, and beauty of the Maldives. Totally worth it.
Since we had traveled to the other side of the world already, we figured why not try to hit another bucket list place on the way home. I searched and searched for MONTHS over various reward programs, but all our desired places either had poor point redemptions, suboptimal weather, or crazy travel times.
I took a break for a few weeks, and luckily I rechecked Japan redemptions and found good flights from Male to Tokyo. Before booking them, though, I made sure I could find reward flights home to California. I was able to find nonstop Japan Air flights in economy from Osaka (KIX) to LAX for 35k points each, again booked through American Airlines.
I booked these, as well as Male-Tokyo (business class Sri Lanka+Japan Air, also via AA, 40k points each) using leftover AA points + sign-up bonuses from both of us opening Citi Business AAdvantage cards. Despite long travel days, the airport lounges and comfortable seats made it enjoyable. And props to Japan Air’s economy cabin; it was very comfortable, and I loved the 2-4-2 configurations (being seated in the 2).
Our first destination in Japan was Tokyo. I opted for the Hyatt Regency Tokyo for a total of 90k points for 5 nights.
We then stayed 2 nights in Kyoto, booking one night cash in a traditional ryokan and the second night via points at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto. This was 29k points for the night; it was a very nice hotel and a perfect location for the main train station.
Finally, we moved to Osaka for the remaining 4 nights, where we just paid cash due to a great deal I found on Agoda.
This trip took almost 2 years of planning, saving, and strategizing. Planning such a big honeymoon on points WHILE planning a destination wedding is definitely not for the faint of heart. I probably aged a few years, lol! But everything came together perfectly!
We got so lucky with the best weather, no flight issues, and just had the overall best trip ever. I cannot thank THM enough for always being open and responsive to my many questions and for guiding me with their amazing knowledge! I am still a beginner, so I’m sure they could have done this even better, but I am overall so, so happy I could make this dream trip a reality. Thanks a million, THM <3
Grand total all flights+hotels: 798k points + $5090 (taxes, fees, seaplanes)
Estimated total WITHOUT points: $37,760
Wow, Justine! You are NOT a beginner after pulling off a trip like that! Your honeymoon on points and miles to the Maldives AND Japan is something to be proud of! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!
Affiliate Disclosure: Travel Hacking Mom uses affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you use our links when applying for a credit card at no extra cost to you. This compensation does not impact how or where products appear on this site. Travel Hacking Mom has not reviewed all available credit card offers on this site. Thank you so much if you use our links!
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this site is not provided by credit card issuer. All opinions, reviews, and recommendations are expressed by the author, not the credit card issuer.