Our Vacation for Two to Asia – Part II

As I wrote about a few months ago, my husband and I are travelling in a few weeks to Hong Kong and Bali. We used British Airways miles that we acquired through each signing up for a credit card to get roundtrip tickets from New York to Bali, Indonesia, with a stop for a few nights in Hong Kong. All told, including the annual fee of the credit card and the taxes and fees associated with these tickets, we paid about $500 each for a roundtrip in business class. While this may not be as swanky as first class, Cathay Pacific does have lie flat seats in business class so we should be plenty comfortable!

With this post, I’m going to focus on how we are getting to New York City for our departure as we do not live in New York. Last fall, my husband signed up for the Citibank Thank You Visa. With this card, he got 50,000 “Thank You” rewards in turn for spending $2,500 in 3 months, with the first year’s annual fee waived. This translates to about $665 worth of airfare. So, using these Thank You Rewards, we “bought” 2 roundtrip tickets between Portland and New York for 12,412 Thank You rewards each. The THR portal has pricing similar to that of Travelocity so whatever price you find there will roughly be the price available, just translated into Rewards instead of dollars. The price is inclusive of all taxes and fees so there literally was no cost to us out of pocket for those tickets. And given that we only used half of his points, that leaves my husband with over 25,000 rewards for use at another time.

Thank You Rewards come in very handy in situations like this. Our goal with travel is to at least get our entire airfare covered, one way or another. If we did not have the Thank You Rewards at our disposal, we would have paid about $300 out of pocket for these two round trip tickets. Not a lot of money, but it is really nice to have that extra cash to use at your destination. We like the flexibility that Thank You Rewards has provided us so much, that I employed the two browser trick in July and received 100,000 Thank You Rewards for signing up for the Mastercard and Visa versions of this card. This, combined with my husband’s remaining stash, gives us about $1,600 worth of travel to use down the road. Keep in mind that you must have an active card to keep your Thank You Rewards balance. So, unless we use our entire balance by next July, we’ll likely have to fork over the annual fee of one card. But, that will be a small price to pay to get such a large benefit. And one never knows if Thank You Rewards will be transferable to frequent flyer programs. Unfortunately, despite rumors in the spring that “Thank You” rewards would be transferable to airlines like American and Singapore, that rumor has thus far remained unfounded. But I would not be surprised if these rewards one day are transferable.

Bottom line, keep in mind programs that are not directly associated with airlines and hotels when considering what credit cards to apply for (Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards are also must-haves). Stay tuned for a breakdown of our free hotel stays in Hong Kong and Bali, courtesy of credit card sign up bonuses!

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