The Maldives are probably the place we went that draws the most questions from people. That’s probably for several reasons. One, it is almost literally on the other side of the planet – or the antipode of us.
A little fun sidebar…Here are two sites that show the antipode of specific locations. So the next time someone comments that they are digging a hole to China at the beach, you can be the asshole that points out that you’d actually be digging a hole to the middle of the Indian Ocean…Everyone loves that guy.
Anyway – back to what I was saying. The Maldives are far away. It took us nearly 20 hours to get to our hotel from Singapore. People were also fascinated with it because people love beaches, and the Maldives may be the most beautiful tropical location on the planet.
Regardless, it is a long way away, so traveling in business class makes it actually bearable to get there. And using miles to pay for flights and hotels can make it cost feasible…I can say with absolute certainty that travelling to the Maldives would not have even been on my radar had it not been for miles/points.
So how hard is it to get there using miles? Not as bad as you may think…A couple could get there (including a stop in Hong Kong) by each person signing up for 5 credit cards – 2 of which would be business cards, so it would only look like 3 new cards on your credit report.
The five cards would be the following:
-2x Citi Platinum America Airlines Visas per person (50,000 miles a piece) – see here
-Chase Hyatt (2 free nights to any Hyatt in the world a piece) – link
-Chase Ink Bold (50,000 Ultimate Rewards points a piece) – link
Assuming you signed up for those cards, were approved, and met minimum spending requirements – a couple would have the following points (including points earned from spending):
American Airlines ~250,000 Miles (including SPG points transferred to AA miles).
Hyatt – 4 free nights and 110,000 points transferred from Ultimate rewards
British Airways ~55,000 miles transferred from AMEX membership rewards
So now we need to get there on flights that actually release award space…Let’s start with getting to Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific is very good about releasing award space and is an American Airlines partner (One World Member). Plus, their business class is fantastic.
The plan is to book MSY-ORD-HKG on business class on American/Cathay Pacific with American Airlines miles. This costs 55,000 AA miles per person, leaving us with 140k AA miles.
Hong Kong has plenty of hotel options; I would probably try to get a best rate guarantee match for a couple of nights.
After a couple nights in Hong Kong, we need to get to the Maldives. Cathay Pacific just started (or actually will start) a non-stop flight from Hong Kong to Male (the capital of the Maldives). Business class on this flight costs 25k British Airways miles per person (British Airways and Cathay Pacific are both One World members). We have these miles thanks to a membership rewards transfer.
We’ve made it to the Maldives and need a spot to stay. The Park Hyatt is a very nice spot, as you can tell from our review of it. Between our 4 free nights and 110,000 Hyatt points, we can get up to 9 free nights at the Park Hyatt Maldives…making it worth the journey to get there.
After a long trip, you probably want to take most direct route home we can using miles. Etihad is an “other airline partner” of American Airlines and is another very nice airline. It’s about a 4 hour flight to Abu Dhabi (Etihads hub) and then 15 or so hours to New York or Chicago.
These flights frequently have award availability because they are relatively unknown and are hard to find/book. It costs 135k AA miles for two people one way in business class. We have just enough miles to cover this.
So there you have it. By signing up for 5 credit cards a person, two people can fly around the world in business class on two of the nicest airlines and spend 9 nights in the Maldives (and as long as you choose in Hong Kong) for free – kind of. There will still be many costs – meals, transportation, activities, etc. – but the flights and major room costs are covered.
Also, I’d add that there may be more efficient ways to spend the points, but this was just an example worked out. Anyone actually looking to take a trip can give me a call, and I’ll see if I can offer some specific advice.