To successfully travel hack your Hawaii vacation, you will need to open 2 credit cards. These two cards will give you enough reward points to fly and stay 5 days and 4 nights at the Luxury Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort. For this trip, you will be targeting reward points from a bank rewards program.
Bank rewards programs are different from airline or hotel rewards programs because they can be used for various purposes. For more information, check out my post on bank programs versus airline and hotel programs.
Remember this is just one of many ways to have a luxury vacation in Hawaii. More experienced travel hackers will quickly see other hotels and resorts at which to stay. I chose this method for travel hacking students because it doesn’t require you to keep track of reward points spread throughout various programs. It focuses on one earning program, making it easier to see how the individual pieces come together to make one vacation.
As you gain more experience in travel hacking, you will want to venture into different programs. But there is a big benefit for first time travel hackers who stick to this program!
Which Reward Points and Why
The program you will be using is Chase Ultimate Rewards program (frequently abbreviated as UR). One of the reasons you should always start with Chase bank whenever new to travel hacking is because of the 5/24 rule. The 5/24 rule is an unofficial Chase rule. It means that Chase is unlikely to approve you for certain credit cards if you have opened 5 or more cards with any banks in the past 24 months.
Many experienced travel hackers envy those who are new to travel hacking because they can still get many of the lucrative Chase sign-up bonuses. People like you! That’s because there are some great Chase cards that allow you to get both flexible ultimate reward points and highly valuable airline awards like the Southwest Companion Pass. By starting with Chase, you get to take advantage of offers that many travel hackers wish they could.
Value of Reward Points Versus Cash
With these 2 cards, you and a guest can fly round trip to Hawaii and back while staying 5 days and 4 nights at the 5-star luxury Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort. To do this, you will need a grand total of 160,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.
Using your reward points will bring the cost of your trip down to $11.20! That is a savings of 99.8% off the base rate you would pay before taxes and fees. Don’t believe me? Here are pictures of my ticket receipts from when I booked with my reward points the exact same way you will!
This is also a great value for your reward points! I value Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1.5 cents per point (you will understand why this is the value I place on them later). This means if I am getting less than 1.5 cents per point from a redemption, I am getting them for below their face value. Through this redemption, before taxes and fees, they are worth 2.75 cents per point. You are getting a great value for your reward points through this vacation.
Which Cards To Get
The two cards you will sign up for are the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I find the Reserve especially to be so valuable that it is one of the cards I keep in my wallet on a day to day basis!
Between the sign up reward point bonuses, and the spending requirements you will be booking your flights in no time. If you have high bills, you can do it in 2 months!
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The first card you should sign up for is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This is a phenomenal reward points card for first time travel hackers for many reasons.
This card’s $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. That means you aren’t learning how to meet your spending requirement on a card that you paid a large annual fee for. You can learn the ins and outs of hitting spending requirements without the stress of losing an annual fee for not meeting minimum spend.
The Sapphire Preferred routinely has a 50,000 reward point sign-up bonus.Chase frequently offers an extra 5,000 reward points when you add an authorized user. The only requirement is that they make one purchase within the first three months. It could be a 99 cent pack of gum, and you will be gifted 5,000 reward points for it! That makes this effectively a 55,000 reward point card!
The minimum spending requirement for the Sapphire Preferred is $4,000 in 3 months. All of the spending you will do to hit your reward points bonus will also get you more reward points! The Sapphire Preferred earns 2 reward points per dollar spent on restaurants and travel, and 1 reward point everywhere else. So if you spend all $4,000 on just your daily bills you will have an extra 4,000 reward points. Meaning the grand total you get from this card from the sign up bonus is not just the 50,000 points advertised, but can be a minimum of 59,000 points. That is nearly 20% extra points than what is advertised.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The second card you should sign up for is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This is a phenomenal reward points card for any traveler. It is my go-to travel card that you will always find in my wallet.
The Reserve does carry a hefty annual fee of $450. This is a premium credit card, but you get premium benefits. The card comes with a $300 annual travel credit. When you use the card to pay for travel, $300 every year will instantly be wiped away. Additionally, when you use the card to rent a car you get $75,000 in rental car insurance. You no longer will have to pay the extra fees to rental car companies. If I had to recommend one card for travelers, it would be the Reserve.
The Sapphire Reserve Currently has a 100,000 reward point sign-up bonus! If you are confident you can hit the spending requirement, I would get this card first. This is a new card, and no one knows how long this bonus will be around. If you aren’t comfortable with getting the Reserve, then certainly start with the Preferred as recommended.
The minimum spending requirement for the Sapphire Preferred is $4,000 in 3 months. This does NOT include the annual fee. The Sapphire Preferred earns 3 reward points per dollar spent on restaurants and travel, and 1 reward point everywhere else. So the minimum amount of points you will get from the sign on bonus is 104,000 reward points. And if you use these points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal they are worth 1.5 cents per point! This is where I get my minimum value for Chase reward points.
Act fast! This card is only available with the 100,000 sign up bonus until January 12th when applying online! But you have until March 12th to get the bonus when you apply in branch. I will update this guide when the time comes closer so you can still get to Hawaii!
After getting both your Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve, you can continue to learn about how to navigate and travel partners and award charts. You don’t have to wait until you get your points to start reading. The knowledge you will gain in the next step is fundamental to all travel hacking you will do in the future. Starting early will give you time to understand the information, and ask any questions you may have! I’ll then show you how to utilize that information to find your flights to Hawaii.