How We Booked Our Maldives Trip With Miles And Points

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Editorial disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

Ryan and I just got back from an incredible trip to the Maldives! This was our biggest redemption splurge to date, but it’s also the most valuable trip we’ve taken. It was worth every point and I’m going to explain how we booked it. The exact ways we booked it may not necessarily be the best way for you to book it but I’ll have another post with other flight options. I’ll also have another post with some other hotel options. Our hotel was great and it deserves its own blog post with a full review, so I’m working on that as well.

Le Meridien Maldives, Marriott Bonvoy points

In case you haven’t followed me on Tiktok or Instagram, this was not the trip we originally planned for our 10th anniversary. In fact, it wasn’t even our backup plan. Or the backup, backup plan. What happened was, we had a trip to Thailand booked, but some parts of Thailand wouldn’t be opening until October. We decided to postpone Thailand so that we could go to all the places we want when we do make it there.

Our next ideas were Italy and/or Southern France. Shortly after planning was underway for that trip, the EU recommended removing the US from its safe list. We weren’t sure what would happen, and we didn’t want to risk having to cancel last minute. We also looked at Calala Island, a private island off of Nicaragua that you can book with Hyatt points, but getting there wasn’t much less of a trek than the Maldives due to limited flight options (most likely due to Covid). So in early September I started looking into the possibility of booking the Maldives. I planned this in about 3 weeks!!

Le Meridien Maldives, Marriott Bonvoy points
Welcome pavilion at Le Meridien Maldives

I knew Marriott had just opened a Le Meridien property and I was kind of excited about the possibility of being some of the first ever guests. Then somehow I managed to book two amazing business class flights last minute. We got really lucky that everything worked out, but in order to get the best deals on points, I recommend booking out as far as possible. It is important to start the award search process early.

This trip was beyond anything I expected and I am so grateful that we had this opportunity.

The Maldives is a very popular destination in general, but even more so among points and miles enthusiasts. This means that award space on flights, especially in business class, can be a challenge.

There are 4 things that will increase your success of finding availability if you’re trying to book flights like these:
  1. Lead time. The more advance notice you have, the more time you have to search for flights that work for you. Obviously, we did not have much time. but we did have a few other things on this list.
  2. Having a variety of miles and points, or at the very least, having a type of transferable currency such as Amex Membership Rewards points. If the ideal flights you want aren’t available, you’ll still have options.
  3. Having flexible dates. No need to explain this one.
  4. Being flexible on routing, including the possibility of booking a positioning flight so that you can fly out of a city that is not your home airport. We booked a positioning flight to fly out JFK. But not because of availability; it was because I wanted to fly in the 380! More on that in a moment. We would have been willing to fly out of any US airport to make this trip happen.
Before we get started, I want to be clear that the Maldives isn’t cheap by any means

While we were able to get most of our flights and hotel stay covered with points, food and activities are expensive and this trip was nowhere near free once you factor all of that in. There are definitely other destinations where your out of pocket expenses can be minimized. This isn’t one of them. That said, redeeming miles for fantastic business class flights to and from, plus redeeming points to cover most of our hotel stay definitely helps make a trip like this feasible.

Now this is just our flights, including seaplane, and hotel stay, but the total value of what we booked is $23,567. We redeemed a total of 553,000 miles and points and paid a total of $2,394 in fees/taxes/surcharges.

Le Meridien Maldives, Marriott Bonvoy points

Outbound flights

We flew out of JFK because I really wanted to fly on an Emirates Airbus 380. We could have flown out of DFW, but it would have been on a 777. Also, we would have had a long layover in Dubai, whereas the JFK itinerary only gave us a 2 hour layover in Dubai. So we flew to JFK the night before and booked a hotel close to the airport.

This is what I’m talking about when I refer to positioning flights. It’s just a separate ticket to get you to a city where you found award availability/a good deal.

Positioning flights DFW-JFK on AA

  • Our total: $0
  • Value: $96

We got really lucky with this flight. I was only booking about 3 weeks out but we found a nonstop AA flight from DFW-JFK for just $48 each ($96 total). The airline incidental credits that you get with Amex Platinum cards aren’t supposed to cover airfare. They’re meant for baggage fees and other incidentals. But sometimes when the fare is low like this, it triggers the incidental fee credit. In this case, both of our $48 airfares were reimbursed with this credit!

Hotel stay- Hyatt Regency JFK at Resorts World New York

  • Our Total: 12,000 Hyatt points and $0
  • Value: $406
Hyatt Regency Resorts World New York City JFK
Lobby at Hyatt Regency Resorts World JFK

We wanted to stay close to JFK, so we decided to try the new Hyatt Regency JFK at Resorts World. As a category 3 property, a standard room requires only 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

Hyatt Regency JFK at Resorts World New York with World of Hyatt points

This is a great value considering the paid rate was over $400 after taxes and fees.

Hyatt Regency JFK at Resorts World New York

They have a restaurant called Sugar Factory where we had a burger and one of their amazing dessert martinis.

Hyatt Regency JFK at Resorts World New York Sugar Factory

And of course there was the casino. We arrived at night so we didn’t spend much time there, but we sat up at the bar and watched a live band and some college football while waiting for a table at Sugar Factory.

Hyatt Regency JFK at Resorts World New York

Note: The other way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points, the redemption portal, would not have been as valuable for this Hyatt stay. With Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred, a $406 room would require 32,480 points. If you have Chase Sapphire Reserve, a $406 room would be 27,067. In this case, transferring the Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt then using the Hyatt points to book results in a much lower redemption price of just 12,000 points transferred to Hyatt.

How to earn World of Hyatt points

*Transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the currency earned from certain Chase cards:

You do not need to accumulate World of Hyatt points to book free Hyatt stays

The quickest way to earn lots of points or miles for any given award travel goal is to earn a welcome bonus on a new credit card

While the World of Hyatt credit card from Chase may seem like the obvious choice, a transferable Ultimate Rewards earning card allows you to earn World of Hyatt points AND other hotel points and airline miles.

If you do not already have a transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card, I highly suggest opening one of those first. Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from these cards can be transferred to 11 different airlines or 3 hotel programs, including Hyatt.

If you only use a World of Hyatt card, you’re only going to earn World of Hyatt points. World of Hyatt points cannot be transferred to other hotel programs. They can be transferred to some airlines, but the ratio is so bad that it is not even worth discussing. By earning Ultimate Rewards, you have the ability to use the points for Hyatt stays, or you can transfer them to other hotels and airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

If you’re a beginner, it is very important to plan your strategy around Chase’s 5/24 rule.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this post before applying for any cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred 2021

Current offer: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for anyone, but especially beginners.  The welcome bonus is worth at least $750 in travel, the annual fee is reasonable, and the rewards (Chase Ultimate Rewards) are easy to earn and redeem.

The annual fee is $95, but the welcome offer alone is worth a lot more than that. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to 11 different airline frequent flyer programs or 3 different hotel loyalty programs.  You can also redeem the points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal.

Chase has recently improved the bonus categories/benefits, which are listed at the end of this article.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Current offer: Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in 3 months. 

This premium card comes with a Priority Pass membership which gives you access to Priority lounges worldwide. The bonus categories on the Chase Sapphire Reserve (3 points per dollar on travel and at restaurants) are a little better than our other favorite premium travel card, the Amex Platinum Card. 

The annual fee is $550, but, you receive a travel credit of $300 each year. That brings the fee to effectively $250, but there are other credits and benefits that may help offset the fee.

You will receive a $100 credit for Global Entry (or $85 for TSA precheck). Also, a few new benefits were recently added to the Chase Sapphire Reserve: Free Lyft Pink for a year (which normally costs $19.99 per month). $60 credit for 2021 with DoorDash; A free year of DashPass (normally $9.99 per month.)

You cannot have this card if you already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred. But if you’re trying to decide which one to open, it really depends on how much you travel and how much you value the premium benefits.

Chase Ink Business Preferred
Chase ink business preferred 2021, best business travel credit cards

Current offer: Earn 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 in 3 months.

If you own a business, I highly recommend Chase Ink Business Preferred. 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth at least $1,250, and the annual fee is very reasonable at $95. 

The earn rate makes it easy to accumulate Chase Ultimate Rewards points on business and travel expenses. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent each year in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. After you hit $150,000 on these categories, the rate is 1 point per dollar. All other categories are 1 point per dollar.

World of Hyatt credit card from Chase

The World of Hyatt credit card current offer is 30,000 Hyatt points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus 2 bonus points per dollar on purchases that normally earn up to 1 point per dollar for the first 6 month on up to $15,000.

The main benefit that makes this card worth keeping year after year is the annual free night certificate. This is good for any Hyatt property that is category 1-4. The annual fee is $95, but there are so many properties for which you can use the annual free night with rates significantly higher than $95. For example, we could have used the certificate to cover our night at Hyatt Regency JFK at Resorts World NYC since it’s a category 3.

This card also comes with Discoverist status, which is mid-tier at best, but Discoverist status will get you free premium internet and late checkout. In our experience, Hyatt is also generous with room upgrades, even for lower status!

The earn rate is 4 World of Hyatt points per dollar at Hyatt, 2 points per dollar at restaurants, 2 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly from airlines, 2 points per dollar on local transit, and 2 points per dollar on gym memberships.

Emirates flights in business class

JFK to Dubai on an A380 then Dubai to MLE on a 777

Emirates miles are easy to earn and I’ll discuss that in a moment. Also, I’ll explain how it’s possible to book for less than we did.

  • Our total: 235,000 miles plus $470 in taxes and fees (117,500 miles each)
  • Total Value: $9172 for both of us
how to book emirates flights in business class with miles

We woke up the next morning and arrived at JFK about 3 hours early because they said to arrive early so that they could make sure we had all necessary documents to travel. Since Le Meridien Maldives is so new, it wasn’t on their list of approved accommodations for Maldives travel. After almost half an hour of the employees-who were very nice about it-trying to figure it out, I pulled up the Maldives government website. It had an updated list, and the Emirates check in supervisor accepted that. There was no line, so we still had plenty of time to spare, but getting there early is advised in case something needs to be sorted out like our hotel situation.

emirates flights in business class with chase ultimate rewards, amex membership rewards points

After getting through security, we headed to the lounge and had a light breakfast and some mimosas.

how to book emirates flights with miles and points

It was totally worth flying to JFK to fly on the 380. Business class was maybe 30% full and I’m pretty sure there was more staff than passengers. The service was outstanding.

how to book emirates flights to the maldives with miles and points

This bar area was such a nice surprise for Ryan. We were flying on a Sunday and after showing the Ryder cup, they streamed an afternoon NFL game and then the night game.

how to book emirates flights to the maldives with miles and points

It is possible to redeem less Emirates miles than we did

Booking Emirates business class is best when booked roundtrip and when you can find saver tickets

Flights between east coast cities served by Emirates and the Maldives are 170,000 Emirates miles roundtrip in business class if you can find saver tickets. That makes each way 85,000 miles.

Saver tickets are limited and subject to availability. Also, it is only possible to book saver tickets if you’re booking roundtrip.

There are fuel surcharges but they aren’t necessarily a deal breaker. In economy they’ll be around $200 roundtrip. In business class they’ll be around $500 roundtrip.

how to book emirates flights to the maldives with miles and points

Once saver tickets are gone, you can book at the higher redemption price. Emirates calls these tickets “Flex Plus” tickets. The Flex Plus redemption price is 117,500 each way for east coast to the Maldives.

Since we were booking last minute, our options were limited. There were no Emirates saver tickets for roundtrip dates that we could work with so we decided we would book one way with Emirates, and then we would try to book the other way on Qatar. It’s not ideal to have to redeem more for the Flex Plus tickets, but we kind of had to take what we could get, given that it was last minute. We’ve traveled significantly less than normal for the past 18 months, therefore, we had a nice stockpile of points we could transfer to Emirates! It was worth every point.

Our 2 business class seats for JFK-MLE on an A380
  • Our total: 235,000 miles plus $470 in taxes and fees (117,500 miles each)
  • Total Value (for 2): $9172
emirates to maldives on miles and points

Earning Emirates miles is easier than you probably think

There are 4 types of bank rewards currencies that transfer to Emirates 1:1.

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Amex Membership Rewards
  • Capital One Venture miles
  • Citi Thank You points
The quickest way to earn lots of Emirates miles is to earn a welcome bonus on a new credit card

Cards that earn these types of currencies often have welcome bonuses of 60k or more. We use these types of cards for everyday spending because accumulating these types of points means we aren’t limited to just one airline program like we would be with an airline co-branded card.

We always recommend starting with Chase cards due to the 5/24 rule. Transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the currency earned from these Chase cards mentioned above in the Hyatt section:

See also: Intro to Chase Ultimate Rewards

Earn your first 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points! 

No matter what your travel goals are, transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards earned on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card can help. The welcome bonus is worth at least $750 in travel, the annual fee is reasonable, and the rewards are easy to earn and redeem.

Chase Sapphire Preferred 2021

Current offer: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Once you have a transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card (and any other Chase cards you want while you’re under 5/24), you can move on to cards that earn other transferable currencies.

Our favorite American Express Membership Rewards offers:

Unlike typical credit cards, the Gold Card, Platinum Card, and Business Platinum Card allow you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.

The Platinum Card from American Express

If you’re a frequent flyer, this card has one of the highest earn rates on flight purchases. Earn 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly through airlines or through amextravel.com on up to $500,000 per calendar year.

Amex Platinum Card 2021

Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months. Also, new cardmembers receive 10 points per dollar on purchases at restaurants and when you shop small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during the first 6 months.

The annual fee is now $695 [rates and fees], but there are lots of benefits and credits that may help offset that fee. Additional benefits and details:  Receive up to $200 of reimbursement on airline incidentals per calendar year (click here for more info), receive $200 total in Uber credits annually, 100$ total in statement credit for purchases at Saks Fifth avenue annually, up to $200 annually on qualified hotels booked through Amex, plus a few more recently added statement credit opportunities. You’ll receive access to the amazing Amex Centurion lounges (where available), plus get lounge access to other airport lounges around the world.  Terms apply, learn more here

Business Platinum Card from American Express

If you want a premium business card, this card is especially lucrative for those who regularly make large business purchases.

Welcome Offer: 120,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. The minimum spending requirement is  $15,000 in the first 3 months.

The annual fee is $595 [rates and fees], but the benefits may be worth it. Note that the fee increases to $695 if the application is received after 1/13/22. The earn rate is 5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels at amextravel.com, 1 point per dollar on everything else) but there is one exception. Purchases over $5,000 earn 1.5 points per dollar (you can earn up to 1 million additional points each year). Also, you will get the $200 airline incidental reimbursement per calendar year and airport lounge access benefits that the personal version of this card has. You can also enroll to receive up to $400 in statement credits annually for Dell purchases, up to $360 annually with Indeed, up to $150 with Adobe, and up to $120 on wireless telephone purchases. Also, you can get up to $179 back per year on a CLEAR® membership. Terms apply.  Learn how to apply here. 

American Express Gold Card

This one has great category bonuses: 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines, 4 points per dollar at restaurants including takeout and delivery, and 4 points per dollar at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases annually.

Welcome Offer: 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. The minimum spending requirement is $4,000 in 6 months. 

The annual fee of $250 [rates and fees] is a little steep, but this card comes with some statement credits worth almost the annual fee if you’re able to utilize them fully. The earn rate of 3 points per dollar on flights is as good or better than most of our other favorite travel cards, but the categories that really stand out here are 4 points per dollar at restaurants and US supermarkets. Terms apply. Click here for more information

Capital One Venture and Citi Premier are other good options

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card used to be on my no-fly list because it was basically a cash back card. Now that Capital One has transfer partners (including Emirates), things have changed. I’d argue that it’s up there with Chase Sapphire Preferred if you’re looking for a simple but lucrative travel rewards card. Click here for a detailed comparison.

Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Click here for more information.

The annual fee is $95. You earn 2 miles per dollar on ALL purchases. You will also receive up to $100 in reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

You can use miles as a purchase eraser. To do this, you can purchase your flight or hotel stay with your Capital One Venture card. Then you log in to your Capital One account and use your Venture miles to “erase” all or part of the travel purchase. You can redeem at a rate of 1 cent per point. I’ll spare you the math, but redeeming Venture miles this way means you receive 2% cash back for travel.

To get even more value, you can transfer Venture miles to several airline partners or a few hotel partners. Read this post for more info about your redemption options.

Citi Premier

Like Amex and Chase, Citi also has a bank rewards program known as Citi Thank You points. You can transfer these points to airline partners or you can redeem them at a fixed value for travel. One of the airline partners is Emirates.

Citi has temporarily added American Airlines as a Thank You points transfer partner. This means that those who have a Citi Premier card can transfer Thank You points to American Airlines AAdvantage at a 1:1 ratio. This is slated to end on November 13, 2021.

Current offer: Earn 80,000 Citi Thank You points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

The annual fee of $95 is very reasonable and there are other good partners such as Avianca and Etihad as well.

The earn rate on this card is also exciting. Earn 3 points per dollar at restaurants and supermarkets, 3 points per dollar at gas stations, 3 points per dollar at hotels and for air travel. Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. The Amex Gold Card has a better earn rate at restaurants and supermarkets (4x), but the annual fee of $95 on the Citi Premier makes it a good alternative for earning points that transfer to some of my favorite airline programs.

Hotel Stay- 6 nights at Le Meridien Maldives

  • Our totals for the 6 night stay: 140,000 Marriott points, 1 free night certificate, and $1460 (includes seaplane transfer)
  • 6 night value: $5040

Le Meridien Maldives is a brand new resort that opened in September. It is currently designated as a Marriott category 5 property. This means free nights are 30k/35k/40k (off peak/standard/peak).

Le Meridien Maldives on points

Of course, this is subject to availability, but a 5 night stay in a standard room would be 120k-160k Marriott Bonvoy points per night (depending on peak/standard/off peak dates).

Le Meridien Maldives on points

This is certainly not the only property in the Maldives for which you can redeem points, but what makes this one interesting is that the standard room for an award stay is an overwater bungalow. Many properties in the Maldives or Bora Bora do not have overwater bungalows as their standard room that is available to book on points. They would require you to upgrade (with more points or sometimes with cash) if you want your award stay in an overwater bungalow. 

Update: That didn’t last long. As of October, overwater villas are an upgrade. You can either redeem an extra 10k points/night or you can pay $50 per night to upgrade to a sunrise overwater villa. The beach bungalow is currently the only standard room that you can book with points for the 30k/35k/40k pricing.

Le Meridien Maldives on points

Points advance

The nice thing about Marriott is that if you don’t have all of the points right now, you can still book with their points advance feature. As long as you’re booking more than 30 days prior to your check in date, you can go ahead and reserve the room. You must have the points and your account and then redeem them to complete the booking 60 days after you use the points advance feature to reserve, or within 14 days of check in, whichever comes first.

Note that this only holds the room, though, and redemption pricing could change as far as off-peak/standard/peak. Marriott’s designated dates for peak, standard, and off peak pricing vary from property to property and they change monthly. For example, you could book with points advance today at off peak pricing for a stay next March. Let’s say you have all of the points in your account by November. By November, when you go to redeem, the March dates could change from off peak to peak or standard. 

Le Meridien Maldives on points
We actually paid extra for an upgraded room

We originally booked a sunrise overwater villa (remember, at the time we booked this was considered a standard room) but a few days later we decided to upgrade for $100/night to a sunset view overwater villa. I’ll discuss the difference between the two in my review post, but I think we would have been happy with either!

Le Meridien Maldives on points

If you have the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card from Chase, you’ll receive a free night certificate every year starting at your first cardmember anniversary. This certificate is valid for a 1 night stay with a redemption price of up to 35k points. So if you’re booking on off peak or standard dates (30k or 35k), you could use this certificate for a 6th night. Considering the annual fee of this card is $95, this benefit can be super valuable. In fact, we keep ours open almost solely for this benefit. This is what’s known as a sock drawer card because it sits in a drawer and we hardly ever use it for spending. 

We booked the 6th night with a free night certificate. That was booked as a sunrise overwater villa but they combined our reservations and let us stay in the sunset room for the last night (and didn’t charge us the nightly upgrade fee of $100).

Note: to book upgraded rooms with the cash and points feature, you have to book from a browser. The cash and points options will not show up on the Marriott app.

Another note: the sunset overwater villa upgrade is now $150/night

Le Meridien Maldives on points
Transportation fees in the Maldives

Here’s the catch: there’s a mandatory transportation fee of about $420 per person because you have to take a seaplane from MLE to the resort. This is typical in the Maldives no matter which hotel you book. Other fees on this award stay are only ~$60, whereas the paid stay has significantly higher extra fees on top of the transportation fee (see below).

Our 6 night stay at Le Meridien Maldives

  • Our totals for the 6 night stay: 140,000 Marriott points, 1 free night certificate, and $1460 (includes seaplane transfer)
  • 6 night value: $5040

5 nights was 4200 so to get the 6 night value I just figured out the average nightly total on 5 nights.

  • 4200/5=840
  • 840+ 4200=$5040

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points:

You do not have to accumulate Marriott Bonvoy points to book free Marriott stays

If you have a Chase Sapphire card that earns transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points or an Amex Membership Rewards earning card, you can use those points to book free stays at Marriott properties.

Amex Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards both transfer to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio. I’ve found that most of the time, transferring Chase or Amex points to Marriott is not going to be a great value due to Marriott’s inflated redemption chart. You can read more about that here. This property is an exception, though.

Given the paid rates (over $700-$800 per night after taxes and fees), plus the fact that your 5th night is free when you redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for a 4 night stay, this would definitely be a time to consider transferring Chase or Amex points to Marriott!

The quickest way to earn lots of points or miles for any given award travel goal is to earn a welcome bonus on a new credit card

Like I said earlier, I recommend opening a transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card first. But since the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card is also a Chase card, this would be a good second move.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card from Chase

Although I don’t value Marriott Bonvoy points as much as Chase Ultimate Rewards points or even World of Hyatt points, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless welcome bonus and benefits lands the card on our list of top offers for those under 5/24.

Marriott convoy boundless chase credit card 2019

Current offer: Earn 3 free night certificates (each valid for a night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Also earn a total of 10 points per dollar on purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores on up to $2500 in the first 6 months.

The annual fee is $95. In addition to the nice welcome offer, the card comes with a free night worth up to 35,000 starting at your first anniversary of card membership. (This benefit kicks in at your first anniversary of card membership, not when you open the card). That anniversary certificate is the certificate we used to book our 6th night.

With this card, you earn 6 points per dollar at Marriott properties (for a total of up to 17 points per dollar, depending on your elite status), and 2 points per dollar on everything else. The earn rate on this card seems high, but remember, Marriott points aren’t as valuable as other points.

This card also comes with Marriott silver status.

Our flights home:

  • Total for both of us: 166k miles/avios and $464
  • Value: $8853
qatar qsuites with american airlines miles

We redeemed British Airways Avios (miles) and American Airlines miles for our Qatar flights on the way home.

  • MLE-DOH on Qatar was booked with British Airways Avios
  • DOH-DFW on Qatar was booked with AAdvantage miles

When redeeming AAdvantage miles, MLE-DOH-DFW is the same redemption price as DOH-DFW because Qatar and the Maldives are considered the same region in the eyes of the AAdvantage program.

So why did we use two different programs?

The problem was, MLE-DOH had no award availability in business class.

AAdvantage should allow mixed cabin tickets (meaning MLE-DOH economy and DOH-DFW in business), and the whole itinerary would price at the business class redemption price of 70k each. But that doesn’t come up as an option online, and I’m assuming that’s because this is an itinerary solely operated by a partner (Qatar). I already had the business class DOH-DFW segment on hold (with AAdvantage) so I tried calling. The AA agent told me that in order to try to add the economy MLE-DOH segment, I would need to release the DOH-DFW seats we had on hold, then they could try to get that itinerary set up. She advised me not to though, and knowing how award travel works, I also knew that wouldn’t be a good idea. The concern is that we may not be able to get those seats again once we release them.

Instead, I decided to book our MLE-DOH segments as a separate ticket. This wasn’t a problem for us, and it’s well documented that although not an official policy, Qatar should have no problem checking your bag all the way through (DFW for us). Theres no way to link two separate tickets prior to the day of travel, but once we checked in at MLE for our MLE-DOH segment, they had no problem linking our reservations. They gave us both boarding passes (MLE-DOH and DOH-DFW) and checked our bags all the way to DFW. It is important to point out, however, that this is a risk. If that first segment (MLE-DOH) was delayed or canceled causing us to miss our DOH-DFW segment, they are not obligated to protect us on another DOH-DFW flight.

MLE-DOH was booked with British Airways Avios

These were economy flights, and we only needed 13,000 Avios each. This is a great redemption price, but British Airways does collect fuel surcharges on Qatar operated flights and the total with the fuel surcharges and other fees was $193 per ticket. We looked at paid fares, though, and realized they were close to $1000, so we decided to redeem the 13k and pay $193 each. Remember, we were booking last minute, but I looked at the MLE-DOH flight on other dates far in advance, and this flight is still $767 in economy on the cheapest dates I could find. I’ll use that number instead of $1,000 to calculate the value. The point is, no one likes fuel surcharges but 13k plus $193 is much better than $767!

Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and Capital One Venture Rewards transfer to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio

This post is about booking AA flights with British Airways Avios, but the same steps would apply if you want to book Qatar operated flights with British Airways Avios.

We had avios already but this is a good example of why the Chase and Amex transfer bonuses that we saw in September can be significant. With Amex’s transfer bonus of 40% we would have needed to transfer just 19,000 to get 26,000.

british airways avios flights on qatar
  • Total redeemed: 26,000 plus $386
  • Total Value: $1534

DOH-DFW was booked with AAdvantage miles

We used AAdvantage miles to book Qatar Qsuites. The redemption price for MLE-DOH-DFW would be 70k AAdvantage miles each way for business class. The redemption price for DOH-DFW is also 70k AAdvantage miles each way for business class.

We redeemed 70k AAdvantage miles and paid $39 in taxes and fees each for our DOH-DFW segment.

  • Our total: 140k AAdvantage miles plus $78
  • Total Value: $7319

Citi Thank You points transfer to Qatar. Qatar requires 85k Qmiles each way for a saver ticket between US-MLE in a Qsuite. The problem is, there are fuel surcharges of over $500 each way. It’s better to book these seats with AAdvantage miles. Redemption price is lower (70k miles each way) and there are no fuel surcharges when booking with AAdvantage miles.

Unfortunately, none of the 1:1 transferable bank points transfer to AAdvantage. There is one exception, as there is a temporary partnership in which you can transfer Citi Thank You points to AAdvantage, but that ends on November 13. If you do not already have a Citi Thank You points earning card, it’s probably too late to open it and earn the bonus to transfer to AAdvantage before the transfer offer expires.

The good news is, there are a few AAdvantage co-branded credit cards that have welcome bonuses of 50k or more AAdvantage miles. You can have multiple AAdvantage cards at the same time, but always read the fine print for eligibility criteria.

2 Qsuites can be combined to make a double bed!

Final thoughts

This trip was a dream and it would not have been possible without miles and points.

Grand total:

  • $2,394, 553,000 points/miles, and 1 free night certificate
  • $23,567

Here is the final breakdown:

DFW-JFK

  • Our total: $0 (Amex airline incidental credit was applied to cover the tickets)
  • Value: $96

JFK hotel stay

  • Our Total: 12,000 Hyatt points and $0
  • Value: $406

JFK-MLE Emirates business class (via Dubai)

  • Our total: 235,000 miles plus $470 in taxes and fees (117,500 miles each)
  • Total Value: $9172

6 nights at Le Meridien Maldives

  • Our total for the 6 night stay: 140,000 Marriott points, 1 free night certificate, and $1460 (includes seaplane transfer)
  • 6 night value: $5040

MLE-DOH on Qatar in economy

  • Our total: 26,000 British Airways Avios plus $386
  • Value:$1534

DOH-DFW in Qatar Qsuites (business class)

  • Our Total: 140,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles plus $78
  • Value: $7319
Earn your first 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points

No matter what your travel goals are, Chase Sapphire Preferred is my top recommendation for anyone looking for their first travel card.  The welcome bonus is worth at least $750 in travel. It is possible to get even more value out of Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring to partners such as Emirates, Marriott, and British Airways. Also, the annual fee is reasonable, and the rewards (Chase Ultimate Rewards) are easy to earn and redeem.

Chase Sapphire Preferred 2021

Current offer: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Check out our list of 36 valuable ways to Ultimate Rewards points!

Here are the earn rates:

  • Earn 5 points per dollar on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Earn 2 points per dollar on other travel purchases
  • Instead of the old earn rate of 2, you can now earn 3 points per dollar on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout)
  • 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (this excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 3 points per dollar on select streaming services
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Also, receive credit of up to $50 annually on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards. New cardmembers will receive this credit immediately and existing cardmembers will start earning after the next anniversary.

Each anniversary, you’ll receive bonus points equal to 10% of total purchases made the previous year. This excludes any sign up bonus points, so it’s only on points earned from spending.

The annual fee is $95, but the welcome offer alone is worth a lot more than that. Also, you’ll receive a year of DashPass (normally $9.99 per month) for free. You must enroll by 12/31/21.

If you already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred, or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can earn even more Ultimate Rewards points on everyday purchases.

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Unlimited, best credit card offers of 2021

Welcome offer: $200 (or 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 in the first 3 months.

The earn rate on the no-annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited card is 1.5 points per dollar, which is 50% higher than the rate of 1 point per dollar on non category spending with the CSP, CSR, or CIBP.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a cash-back card on its own, meaning points cannot be transferred. But there is an exception if you pair it with a CSP, CSR, or CIBP.

If you also have one of the three Chase cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points (CSP, CSR, or CIBP), then you can redeem any points earned from the Chase Freedom Unlimited the exact same way you would redeem your transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Also, there are a few bonus categories:

  • 5% on Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% on Dining
  • 3% on Drugstore purchases

Click here for more information.

Amex Rates and Fees:

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. The comments have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Want to save money on travel?

Subscribe now to receive the latest tips and tricks straight to your inbox (for free!)

Success

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: