Greetings from paradise, also known as Australia.
I started writing this post from one of my favorite places in the world: the balcony of my room at Park Hyatt Sydney (check out this photo of the sunrise!). I’m staying here with points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, my #1 recommendation for travel rewards cards.
Normally, the room would cost $900 a night (!), but naturally, my cost is … $0. I’ve been here over and over, usually at least once a year, and every stay has been “funded” through my points from this card.
And it’s not just here. All over the world, I’ve been able to fly and stay for nearly free—all thanks to the wonders of travel hacking.
All of this is possible for you, too! Or at least it is for many of our readers, who regularly write in to tell me about how they used their points for amazing experiences of their own.
The Latest Offers: Earn 100,000 Hilton Points and More
It’s been a while since I’ve written about the latest and greatest travel hacking offers. Here are a few deals that are particularly good. With the exception of the new Hilton card, which I plan to apply for at some point, I have all of these cards myself.
Here’s a rundown:
Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. I mentioned the Chase Sapphire Preferred in the intro to this post. There’s also a relatively new card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that is also good (yeah, I have both… I can quit anytime).
The Reserve captured a lot of people’s attention when it first came out. At the time, it offered a 100,000 point bonus and an annual $300 travel credit that could essentially be earned twice the first year, depending on when you applied for it (i.e. if you applied in November you could get $300 credit, then it would “reset” in January, so within a short period of time you’d earn $600).
The card also has a $450 annual fee that can’t be waived, and they’ve since tightened up those two major benefits that offset the fee considerably. Now you earn “only” a 50,000 point bonus, and the annual $300 travel credit is now based on your year of being a cardholder.
Still, it’s a good card for some people who have a lot of travel and dining spend, since you’ll 3 points for every dollar spent on anything in those categories.
If you’re just getting started, I’d recommend the Preferred. If you know what you’re doing and can use the benefits well, get the Reserve.
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve
New Hilton Honors Business AmEx. A brand-new card just debuted this week, offering a 100,000 point signup bonus and free Gold status in Hilton’s loyalty program.
What can you do with 100,000 points? Well, reward nights start at just 5,000 points a night, so technically you could stay up to 20 nights with this bonus. (If anyone does that, let me know.)
To be fair, those 5,000 night options aren’t usually places where you’d want to spend more than a quick night in transit somewhere, let alone anywhere you’d want to spend 20 nights at. Most people will be able to get anywhere from 2-4 nights at good Hilton properties. If you think of it like that, there’s still a lot of value to be found.
Gold status will also get you free breakfast, free internet, and room upgrades upon availability. Not bad when you consider most people have to “earn” those benefits every year by staying at least 10 nights.
Note: not all points are created equal. In fact, 50,000 points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred are more valuable than 100,000 points from the Hilton card. Still, you can definitely get a lot of value from the Hilton card.
Hyatt Credit Card. This card is great for Hyatt lovers—or for anyone who wants to earn hotel points for free hotel stays around the world including the Park Hyatt Sydney or any other Park Hyatt (Paris, Tokyo, New York, Milan are some of the better ones).
With the Hyatt Credit card from Chase, you’ll earn 40,000 World of Hyatt bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
You’ll earn 3 points for every $1 you spend at a Hyatt Hotel, plus you’ll have automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as you’re a cardholder.
Finally, you’ll also get an annual free night certificate that can be used at any Category 1-4 hotel, which doesn’t include those Park Hyatts but does include a lot of nice properties. This benefit alone outweighs the annual fee for the card.
Other, Non-Card Offers
I know that not everyone can get U.S. travel cards, and some people in our community are opposed to the idea of credit cards in general. On the first point, I’ll just note that there may be cards in your country that are also valuable.
In our Dream Trip Facebook group, a number of people from Australia, Canada, Singapore, and various European countries have started their own sub-threads to discuss local deals.
On the second point—for people who hate credit cards—you’re certainly entitled to feel that way. However, be aware that I’m not encouraging anyone to go into debt. The whole point is to use these offers to your advantage, and you should never keep a balance on any of these cards. If you can’t use credit responsibility, you shouldn’t get these (or any other) cards.
Assuming you can use credit responsibly and pay off your balances each month, why not use them to see the world or otherwise just enjoy a nice vacation? That’s my philosophy, and as I said it’s worked well for many of our readers.
Either way, here are a couple of other deals you can take advantage of no matter where you live and no matter how you feel about credit cards.
Buy IHG points with a 75% bonus. I try to maintain a balance of miles and points in most major airline and hotel programs. This way, I have options. Whenever I’m going somewhere (which is usually every week), I consider what’s best depending on the city, what I’m doing there, and award availability.
I only stay at IHG properties a handful of times a year, but whenever I do, I usually book with points. Don’t have any IHG points? A few times a year, they run a sale where you can earn up to 100% extra points.
The current offer is for a 75% bonus. You can buy up to 60,000 points, and if you bought the maximum it would cost $690. You’d then receive a total of 105,000 points (60,000 + 45,000 bonus).
This isn’t an amazing deal, but you can then use those points to book stays for much less than they’d cost otherwise. I’ll be taking advantage of the deal to top up my IHG balance, which was getting low after a few recent trips.
Wide-open awards from San Francisco to Australia. Qantas recently announced a new route from Melbourne to San Francisco, beginning at the end of 2018. Award availability can be tough on U.S.-Australia routes, and sometimes it’s next-to-impossible to find premium seats, especially for two people.
However, when a new route opens, there tend to be a lot more options—and that’s exactly what’s happening now. You can book Qantas awards using AA miles, British Airways Avios points, or Alaska Airlines miles.
The last option offers the most favorable redemption rate. For just 70,000 Alaska miles you can fly Business Class from San Francisco to Melbourne and get a free stopover. You might want to hang out in Melbourne for a while, then fly all the way across the country to Perth—for no additional miles.
You can also pick up a connection to San Francisco at no charge as well. For example, you can fly from New York City to SFO to begin the trip, all for no additional miles.
These last two items are just a couple of recent examples. Each week there are new deals and opportunities. If you’re reading this post a bit later and those deals aren’t available, don’t fret… more are on the way.
Travel hacking works! Have you tried it yet?