How Two Vets Went to Hawaii for $48
This is not a catch, we did travel to Hawaii for $48 out of pocket. We did this by doing something commonly known as Travel Hacking.
There are different ways to travel hack, but the most common one is by using credit cards. If used correctly, credit cards can be a powerful tool to earn rewards that can be used for traveling, shopping, and many other goodies.
In no way are we encouraging you to open credit cards just for fun and to incur debt. Credit cards have one of the highest interest rates of any type of debt, so the idea is that you pay your balance off every month and never pay interest.
For our travel hacking story, we used mostly Chase credit cards, but there are other good credit cards out there for traveling aficionados.
Prior to this trip, we had used a lot of our points for our honeymoon in Costa Rica. Since we live in California, we have been looking at going to Hawaii for a while and we finally did it! Since it was for a long weekend trip, some friends recommended going to Maui.
It started off by looking at flights we could purchase with miles/points. Using point.me, I found that the best way to get there was by using Delta points and coming back using Southwest points. My wife and I already had accumulated enough points in our Delta accounts in order to purchase the tickets with points (16,500 each).
With Southwest, we did not have enough points, but we were able to transfer points from our Chase Rewards to Southwest. Overall we spent $48.20 out of pocket for roundtrip tickets to Maui.
Then it came down to booking a place to stay. This was probably the hardest decision since there were so many options. We ended up going with an Airbnb which was of good quality and good price (less than $350 a night).
That being said, there is no point system to use for Airbnbs so we paid with our credit card. Chase does have a promotion where they give a 50% extra value to our points if we pay with Chase Rewards Points. So we ended up using 78,817 points to pay for that Airbnb charge in our credit card statement.
The next best thing would have been to stay at a luxury Hyatt hotel for 40,000 points a night, but there were many hidden fees we would have incurred (around $100 per day for hotel fees and parking).
A friend suggested that we rent a car using Turo, the Airbnb of cars. Car rentals at the airport were not as expensive as we thought, so we booked our car through the Chase travel portal two months in advance with 25,252 Chase Rewards Points.
Car rentals are something I tend to check frequently for better deals since reservations can easily be canceled. We were lucky to find a better deal a week before our trip for 15,013 points, so we canceled our initial reservation and saved over 10k points.
|33,000 (Delta Skymiles)
|37,340 (Southwest + Chase)
If we had planned the trip more than 2 months in advance, the points redemption rate may have been even better.
Our $48 Trip
We had an amazing trip. The island is small, and since we had a car we were able to drive around visiting every beach possible.
Our favorites were Slaughterhouse Beach (we saw some turtles) and Baldwin Beach.
Our Airbnb had some extra amenities like beach chairs, umbrellas, snorkeling gear, and a cooler, which were great additions for our beach visits.
The trip was full of beautiful sunsets and great food (fresh fruits and seafood).
We traveled to Maui for $48 dollars by using points awarded for our regular day to day expenses.
As previously stated, we never carry a balance on our credit card. We have multiple credit cards for our regular expenses (i.e. groceries, gas, and restaurants) so we can maximize our points rewards, and all of them are paid in full automatically every month.
If you’re interested in travel hacking, do your research on credit cards that offer travel rewards. You could be soaking up the sun for less than the cost of a tank of gas.
Willie Bidot, DVM, DACLAM