Yesterday, a friend asked me what it would entail for his wife and him to economically vacation at a luxury destination in the next 3-4 years. The ultimate goal is to use miles for the Business class flights and points for the luxury lodging. There are a lot of things to consider when planning a big vacation where you want to redeem awards for both large ticket items (flight & hotel). The only points/miles earning credit cards they have are the Chase OnePass Plus and Chase Sapphire Preferred. They are willing to open one more line of credit if the bonus offer and earning potential are lucrative enough.
I’ll go through a few questions that I posed to help reveal a better idea of how to formulate the free flight part of the vacation.
What airlines fly to Bora Bora?
Air Tahiti Nui & Air France. Both airlines are partners with Delta so you can use your Delta SkyMiles for awards. A COACH ticket to Bora Bora from the East coast will run you about$2000. Business class? $4000+. Clearly, redeeming miles is the best option. The low-tier Delta awards from North America to the Southwest Pacific will cost 100k miles for Coach and 150k miles for Business… total fees would be about $30! Talk about CHEAP. My friend decided that Business class for 2 is a great award to shoot for. After all, it is about 16+ hours of travel time.
The routing is simple enough. JFK-LAX on Delta; LAX-PPT (Papeete, Tahiti, PF) on Air France or Air Tahiti Nui.
How do I get enough miles to fly there?
The big challenge is how to accrue 300k (150k x 2 people) Delta SkyMiles. The good news is there are plenty of options:
American Express Premier Rewards Gold Charge Card – Amex’s Membership Rewards (MR) program transfers points directly to Delta. The great thing about this is that the two programs have run a lot of bonus promotions this year. I personally transferred 50k MR points to Delta and, through a promo, I came away with 75k SkyMiles and 25k Medallion Qualification Miles (giving me instant Silver status).
Right now, the signup bonus is 15k MR points, but due to Amex’s great customer service to build loyalty, there is usually no problem calling them to bump the bonus to 75k MR points. There are also promotions that circulate around the web (that I always post here) that you can call to enroll in (link). The best tip is to leave MR points in your Amex account until Delta runs a promo that you think is worth it; then transfer!
Partner Programs – Get miles for dining out! Rewards Network has a great network of restaurants that partner with several airlines, Delta being one of them. Currently, new members can earn 1,000 miles for spending $25 at a listed restaurant within 30 days of signing up. Just enroll your main dining credit card and find a place to eat. Rewards Network even has iPhone & Android apps for you on-the-go users. You earn 3 miles per dollar spent at participating eateries – not bad at all and every dollar/point/mile counts! You can even start earning 5 miles per dollar after dining at 11 places.
Every once in a while, crazy promotions will come around. Earlier this year, SpaFinder.com was giving you 40 SkyMiles per dollar spent. Great if you actually go to the spa. If you don’t, that’s fine too because I ended up just selling these on eBay for very close to face value. To save you the calculations, I ended up with over 40k SkyMiles and spent just over $240 – an earning rate of $0.006 per mile. That’s a rate I’d take ALL DAY. If you were to earn 300k miles at that rate, 2 Business class tickets to Bora Bora would only cost you $1800. #VALUE. For ridiculous deals and earning opportunities like this, always check back or follow my Twitter for the latest!
Butt-In-Seat (BIS) Miles – Then there is always the option of actually flying Delta. For the infrequent flyers in my circle of friends, Delta does not have the best reputation. Hell, if their miles weren’t so easy to earn, I’d boycott them too! I realize BIS miles are probably last on the list of earning methods but it is worth mentioning.
As you can see, for this Bora Bora flight strategy, there are enough options to get my friends to their goal of 300k Delta SkyMiles. If you have a trip you’d like to outline a plan for, please feel free to comment or email!
Stay tuned for the luxury lodging portion coming shortly…