Our latest reader success story comes from Stacy. She and her husband had a fun-filled vacation to Kona. Here is her reader success story to Kona in her own words.
My husband and I recently traveled to Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii using points and miles. Let me share how we did it!
Back in March of this year, we started the process of remodeling our master bathroom. I remembered one of the tips I had learned in your Master Class, and my husband and I opened new cards to charge as many of our expenses as possible for the remodel. Using another one of the tips I had learned–have a strategy–we did some research before we chose the cards to open. I applied for the United Explorer Card to earn 60,000 miles, and my husband opened the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant to earn 100,000 Marriott points. My husband travels frequently for his job and almost always stays at a Marriott property, so this card made the most sense for him.
It also made the most sense for our trip! We knew we wanted to stay at the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. This hotel has its own sand beach and is convenient to the “main drag” in Kona, where all the restaurants and shops are located. We used 170,000 Marriott points for five nights, which would have cost $2500 in cash. My husband has Gold Elite status, so we received an additional discount on the points cost. We also were upgraded to a room on a higher floor with an ocean view when we checked in.
We flew United from San Diego to Kona (with one brief layover at LAX). Our roundtrip flights were 23,500 miles per person plus $14.60 in taxes instead of $500 per person. I also used points to upgrade us from Economy to Economy Plus, an additional savings of $300 per person. The biggest benefit in my mind, however, was the premium boarding from being cardholders! We knew we would be in Group 2, so we weren’t worried about checking in as soon as possible 24 hours before the flight.
Because we had saved so much money on our hotel and airfare, we could book multiple activities. We went zip-lining near Hilo, snorkeled with the manta rays from a catamaran that also took us on a sunset sail, and booked the premium, up-front tickets for a luau at our hotel. We also spent a day at Volcanoes National Park and went on a tour of a cacao farm (with chocolate tasting at the end!).
Since our remodel, my husband has referred me to the Marriott Bonvoy Bold card to earn 15,000 points, and I opened the card when the points bonus had been increased to 50,000. I also opened the Chase Sapphire Preferred during a bonus period to earn 80,000 Ultimate Rewards.
This December, we are going to Miami and Key West and staying at The Plymouth in South Beach (a Hyatt small luxury hotel property) and the Hyatt Vacation Club at Sunset Harbor in Key West, using points from my Sapphire Preferred card. My husband had Southwest credit from a previously canceled trip that we used to buy our airfare during a 40% off sale we learned about from the Travel Hacking Moms Instagram account!
We are currently planning a trip to Costa Rica using points and miles–I opened the American Airlines card when the bonus was 70,000 miles for spending $1, and I just opened the Chase Ink Business Cash card last week!
I had always considered myself a travel hacker by using my Citibank Premier card exclusively for 75% of my purchases. I did earn us a nice trip every 2-3 years by using that card, but the Travel Hacking Moms have really opened my eyes to how much traveling we can earn for nearly free. We estimate that we have already saved close to $10,000! Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge with us!
Thanks, Stacy, for sharing your reader success story to Kona with us! We love to hear about all the success our readers are having!
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