Maldives flights and hotel with 2 credit cards

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Some readers are advanced hobbyists who have been playing the points and miles game and traveling for pennies on the dollar for years and years. Others are newer to the game and the tools we use. Today's post launches a series for newcomers to the game that we hope will also be a useful refresher for seasoned vets: how to get flights and hotels covered for a popular vacation destination / region with just 2 credit cards. We'll also include how to juice it up with 3 or more credit cards for those looking to up the ante and/or add a Player 2. The purpose of this series is to show that "dream" travel trips are easily possible when earning and leveraging credit card rewards properly - whether you're looking to take 40K and get far away or you're looking to get more luxury for less money. We'll be adding some companion resources as we go in order to explain the key parts of the puzzle for the games we play. Today's destination: The Maldives.

Maldives flights and hotels can combine to form one of the most expensive exotic vacation options in the world. However, savvy rewards travelers know that it doesn’t have to be that way: it is possible to build a Maldives vacation with as few as 2 credit cards to cover your flight and luxury hotel — or add another card or two to fly in comfort and style. A couple playing the game in 2-player mode can easily make a dream trip an affordable reality. That’s not to say the Maldives will be cheap: you’ll still be on the hook for things like most meals and an expensive round trip sea plane or boat transfer to your hotel. Of course, when you’re not paying sticker price for the most expensive aspects, those costs sting a bit less. See the video below for a high-level overview and then read on for some examples of how you could leverage the points from various welcome bonuses to make it happen.

Economy class: 1 credit card for round trip Maldives flights

Maldives Flights

If you’re content to fly in economy class, a single new credit card welcome bonus could be enough to get you there and back, paying just the taxes on the award ticket (which can vary from a few dollars up to a few hundred depending on the partner(s) you choose to fly, but will be significantly less than a paid ticket in all of the examples below). Here are a few example credit card welcome bonuses along with an explanation below each as to how you could use that bonus to get to the Maldives and back.

Chase British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Up to 100K bonus Avios
Get 50K Avios after $3K spend in first 3 months + 50K more Avios after $20K spend in first year

$95 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: Good choice for a nice signup bonus. Award rebate makes the card a keeper if you frequently book awards from the US to Europe.

How this card could cover your Maldives flights:

  • Fly Qatar Airways for 49,250 Avios each way in economy class from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, or Toronto

How this card could cover your Maldives flights:

  • Fly Star Alliance carriers like Lufthansa, Austrian, Turkish, Air India, or Singapore for 42.5K miles each way (taxes are about $100-$150 round trip depending on the route you take)

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Credit Card from American Express
60K miles + 5K MQMs
60K miles + 5K MQMs after $3K spend in the first 3 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
(Offer Expires 10/28/2020)

$250 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: Good choice for frequent Delta flyers who can make use of annual companion certificate

How this card could cover your Maldives flights:

  • Fly a combination of Delta, Virgin Atlantic, Air France, Alitalia, and/or Saudia for 50K each way. Note that taxes and fees can range from $30 to more than $200 each way.

Honorable mentions for economy class:

Citi Premier Card

FM Mini Review: Very strong earnings for spend. Excellent bonus categories. Points transferable to select airlines. Recommend pairing this card with Citi Double Cash and Citi Rewards+. Sadly, this travel card doesn't provide any travel protections.

How this card could cover your Maldives flights:

  • Fly Star Alliance carriers like Lufthansa, Austrian, Turkish, or Air India for 34K each way by transferring to Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles (note that once you’ve met the minimum spending requirement, you’ll have at least 64K points, possibly more)

The Platinum Card® from American Express
60K points + up to $300 in statement credits
60K after $5K spend in 3 months plus 20% back as a statement credit for restaurant purchases worldwide for the first 12 months up to $300 back. Terms apply.

$550 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: This card is absolutely loaded with high end perks. Depending upon your situation, those perks may be worth the annual fee or much more.

or

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
75K points
75K points after $15K spend in the first 3 months Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$595 Annual Fee

Via some browsers you may find a targeted 95K offer with a refer-a-friend link. You can find our refer-a-friend link here (Note: this refer-a-friend link is not an affiliate link. Information about this link was collected independently by Frequent Miler)

Recent better offer: 150K after $20K Spend (Targeted)

FM Mini Review: This card is absolutely loaded with high end perks. Depending upon your situation, those perks may be worth the annual fee or much more.

Note that sometimes there are targeted offers on these cards good for 85K-100K or more points after minimum spend.

How these cards could cover your Maldives flights:

  • Fly round-the-world in economy class on Star Alliance Airlines with stops like New York, Amsterdam, Athens, Istanbul, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangkok, Beijing, and return to New York for 75,000 points total with ANA Mileage Plan.

Business class: 1 credit card each way for Maldives flights

Maldives flights
Singapore Airlines rarely releases business class space to partners, but every now and then you may get lucky and find some.
CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard
65K miles
65K after $4K spend in first 4 months

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $99

Recent better offer: 75K after $5K in the first 5 months (Expired 1/16/20)

FM Mini Review: This card usually has a great signup bonus, but if you're looking for a card to keep long term, you'll find better options.

How this card could cover your Maldives flights:

  • Fly Qatar or Etihad or Cathay Pacific for 70K each way

How this card could cover your Maldives flights:

  • Fly Star Alliance carriers like Lufthansa, Austrian, Turkish, Air India, or Singapore (note that Singapore releases very little premium-cabin space to partners) for 85K one way

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business Credit Card from American Express
70K miles + 5K MQMs
70K miles + 5K MQMs after $4K spend in the first 3 months. Terms and limitations apply. (Rates & Fees)
(Offer Expires 10/28/2020)

$250 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: Good choice for frequent Delta flyers who can make use of annual companion certificate

How this card could cover your Maldives flights:

  • Fly a combination of Delta, Virgin Atlantic, Air France/KLM, and/or Saudia from 95K miles each way

Honorable mentions:

Citi Premier Card

FM Mini Review: Very strong earnings for spend. Excellent bonus categories. Points transferable to select airlines. Recommend pairing this card with Citi Double Cash and Citi Rewards+. Sadly, this travel card doesn't provide any travel protections.

How this card could cover your Maldives flights:

  • Fly Star Alliance carriers like Lufthansa, Austrian, Turkish, Air India, or Singapore for 67.5K one way with Turkish Miles & Smiles (a Citi transfer partner)
The Platinum Card® from American Express
60K points + up to $300 in statement credits
60K after $5K spend in 3 months plus 20% back as a statement credit for restaurant purchases worldwide for the first 12 months up to $300 back. Terms apply.

$550 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: This card is absolutely loaded with high end perks. Depending upon your situation, those perks may be worth the annual fee or much more.

or

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
75K points
75K points after $15K spend in the first 3 months Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$595 Annual Fee

Via some browsers you may find a targeted 95K offer with a refer-a-friend link. You can find our refer-a-friend link here (Note: this refer-a-friend link is not an affiliate link. Information about this link was collected independently by Frequent Miler)

Recent better offer: 150K after $20K Spend (Targeted)

FM Mini Review: This card is absolutely loaded with high end perks. Depending upon your situation, those perks may be worth the annual fee or much more.

How this card could cover your Maldives flights:

  • Note that these cards sometimes offer targeted welcome bonuses of 85K-100K points (we’ve even seen an offer as high as 150K on the business version). Fly round-the-world in business class with stops like New York, Amsterdam, Athens, Istanbul, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangkok, Beijing, and return to New York for 115,000 points total with the ANA round-the-world chart (ANA is an Amex transfer partner).
  • Alternatively, use Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (another Amex transfer partner) to fly in business class one-way from the US for 85K miles or possibly less with a mixed-cabin award.

Covering your Maldives hotel with credit card rewards

Maldives flights
Overwater bungalows in the Maldives: a vacation dream for many.

After publishing the video above, I recognized an arithmetic error that requires slight modification of the plan for the card and hotel I mentioned, though there are actually a few options to cover luxury hotels with a credit card or two and it is possible to get as many as four free nights in the Maldives with one credit card welcome bonus.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
150K Points
150K after $4K spend in 3 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$450 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: This card is loaded with valuable perks that are more than worth the card's annual fee if you stay in Hilton resorts at least once per year, and other Hilton properties a few times a year..

How this card could cover your Maldives hotel:

  • This card comes with 1 free weekend night at nearly any Hilton hotel every year, so you could get 1 free weekend night at the Conrad Maldives as an annual benefit (you receive your first free night certificate about 12 weeks after approval). At 95K points per night for additional nights in an overwater bungalow at the Conrad Maldives, one would need 190K points for 2 nights. Depending on which categories see most of that spend, it is possible to have earned a total of 190K or more given the current welcome offer.
  • Perhaps even more interesting is playing this game with a partner. Since Hilton offers the 5th night free on award stays, five nights comes to 380,000 points. Hilton also allows you to combine points with other members, so if your significant other is approved for the same card, you could have well over 300K points from the welcome bonuses before factoring in the points earned to meet minimum spending requirements. Keep in mind that Hilton often sells points for half a cent each if you need to bridge a gap.
  • Two additional bonuses:
    • This card comes with automatic Hilton Diamond status, which means free breakfast for 2 daily at the Conrad Maldives. At the time of writing, the Conrad Maldives also offers and afternoon cocktail hour where Diamond members can get a free alcoholic drink.
    • A further feature of the card is a $250 resort credit each calendar year, meaning that the first $250 you spend with select resorts like the Conrad Maldives is rebated on your card. You could use this toward dinners, drinks, or even the sea plane ride.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
100K points
100K after $15K spend in 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

See: How to sign up for Chase Ink cards

Recent better offer: 80K after $5K spend. Many preferred the 80K offer due to the much lower spend requirement

FM Mini Review: Great card for signup bonus and 3X categories. Also consider the fee-free Ink Business Cash for its 5X categories, and the fee-free Ink Business Unlimited to earn 1.5X everywhere.

How this card could cover your Maldives hotel:

  • Stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives in a Park Villa (a private beach villa) for 30K points per night. After meeting the minimum spending requirement on this card, you would nearly have enough points for three free nights.
  • Bonus tip: If you have a friend who is a Hyatt Globalist member, you can transfer your Hyatt points to that Globalist and ask them to book your room as a Guest of Honor stay. This would entitle you to Globalist benefits, including free breakfast for 2 each day.
  • Note that the sea plane transfer is quite expensive

Chase IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
125K points
125K after $3K in the first 3 months

$89 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: None.

FM Mini Review: Good signup bonus. Keep only if you value the 40K annual free night and/or 4th night free awards.

How this card could cover your Maldives hotel:

  • The Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives costs just 45K points per night. After meeting the minimum spending requirement for the welcome bonus, you would have enough points for four free nights. That’s because one of the benefits of this card is the 4th night free on award stays — so 45K per night times three equals 135K points and then your fourth night is free.
  • Keep in mind that IHG often sells points for half a cent each, meaning you can buy the points to stay here for $225 per night (less if you have this credit card and therefore get the 4th night free).

Maldives flights & hotels with 2 credit cards bottom line

The Maldives are far from the US and quite isolated, which make these islands an exotic and expensive dream destination for many (while for others those qualities are a non-starter). While food and sea plane transfers are still going to be quite expensive in the Maldives, the two parts that are traditionally most expensive – flights and hotels — simply don’t have to be expensive at all. There are numerous ways to leverage credit card rewards to cover the most expensive parts of the trip, making an exotic tropical island paradise closer than it seems.

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