Link Copied

This couple flew around the world in first class using airline points - and paid less than $2,000 for $55,000 of airfare

Alex and Erin's trip took them from New York to Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. For their long-haul flight from New York to Singapore, they booked a Singapore Airlines first-class suite.

Alex and Erin's trip took them from New York to Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. For their long-haul flight from New York to Singapore, they booked a Singapore Airlines first-class suite.
Advertisement

Alex began planning the trip more than a year in advance. He said the best strategy is to start by choosing your destination, then researching which airlines fly there, and then seeing whether your credit card allows you to convert points into miles with those airlines.

Alex began planning the trip more than a year in advance. He said the best strategy is to start by choosing your destination, then researching which airlines fly there, and then seeing whether your credit card allows you to convert points into miles with those airlines.
Advertisement

Singapore Airlines, for example, is a transfer partner of Chase, Amex, SPG, and Citi. To book their eight-leg trip, the Millers used 182,000 American Express Membership Rewards Points, about 280,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, and 160,000 SPG Points.

Singapore Airlines, for example, is a transfer partner of Chase, Amex, SPG, and Citi. To book their eight-leg trip, the Millers used 182,000 American Express Membership Rewards Points, about 280,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, and 160,000 SPG Points.
Advertisement
Advertisement

Alex has earned millions of miles since 2011 by strategically using his cards and by maximizing sign-up bonuses, which for some companies run as high as 100,000 points.

Alex has earned millions of miles since 2011 by strategically using his cards and by maximizing sign-up bonuses, which for some companies run as high as 100,000 points.
Advertisement

Before the Millers' flight to Singapore, their tickets gave them access to the swanky Virgin Atlantic clubhouse in JFK Airport, where they could lounge and enjoy cocktails.

Before the Millers' flight to Singapore, their tickets gave them access to the swanky Virgin Atlantic clubhouse in JFK Airport, where they could lounge and enjoy cocktails.
Advertisement

The clubhouse even had a spa and hair salon.

The clubhouse even had a spa and hair salon.
Advertisement

The couple cashed in 187,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to afford the first-class suite. Each seat had an $8,400 value, but the Millers paid just $300 each in taxes and fees.

The couple cashed in 187,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to afford the first-class suite. Each seat had an $8,400 value, but the Millers paid just $300 each in taxes and fees.
Advertisement

For other flights on their itinerary, the Millers used points from their American Express Membership Rewards program and their Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards.

For other flights on their itinerary, the Millers used points from their American Express Membership Rewards program and their Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards.
Advertisement

Singapore Airlines pulls out all the stops for first-class passengers, including caviar before dinner. Meal options included lobster thermidor and suckling pig.

Singapore Airlines pulls out all the stops for first-class passengers, including caviar before dinner. Meal options included lobster thermidor and suckling pig.
Advertisement

Here's a look at the menu.

Here's a look at the menu.
Advertisement

For dessert, the Millers shared a chocolate cake with macarons, chocolate tuiles, strawberries, and raspberries. The cabin crew stored their leftovers in a refrigerator so the couple could finish it later in the flight.

For dessert, the Millers shared a chocolate cake with macarons, chocolate tuiles, strawberries, and raspberries. The cabin crew stored their leftovers in a refrigerator so the couple could finish it later in the flight.
Advertisement

First-class patrons on Singapore Airlines get sleek amenity bags containing skincare products and perfume.

First-class patrons on Singapore Airlines get sleek amenity bags containing skincare products and perfume.
Advertisement

The airline offered Dom Pérignon and Krug champagne at a moment's notice.

The airline offered Dom Pérignon and Krug champagne at a moment's notice.
Advertisement

As for entertainment, guests can choose from more than 1,000 movies, TV shows, games, and music options.

As for entertainment, guests can choose from more than 1,000 movies, TV shows, games, and music options.
Advertisement

"Having the middle suites turned into a double bed was surreal — we couldn't believe we were on an airplane, 35,000 feet in the sky," Erin said.

"Having the middle suites turned into a double bed was surreal — we couldn't believe we were on an airplane, 35,000 feet in the sky," Erin said.
Advertisement

The Millers have been fare-hacking luxury flights for years by strategically signing up for credit card loyalty programs and accruing points that can be transferred into frequent flyer miles. Their first 'points journey' was their honeymoon in 2014, Alex said.

The Millers have been fare-hacking luxury flights for years by strategically signing up for credit card loyalty programs and accruing points that can be transferred into frequent flyer miles. Their first 'points journey' was their honeymoon in 2014, Alex said.
Advertisement

For their entire eight-leg trip, they paid just over $1,000 each in taxes and fees. Typical economy tickets for the same flights would have topped $2,300 each — meaning the Millers' travel hacking saved them more than 50% off even the cheapest available fare.

For their entire eight-leg trip, they paid just over $1,000 each in taxes and fees. Typical economy tickets for the same flights would have topped $2,300 each — meaning the Millers' travel hacking saved them more than 50% off even the cheapest available fare.
Advertisement

For the Millers, the experience was more than worth the year it took to arrange. 'There's no doubt this trip took a lot of planning. But I had so much fun doing it, and the memories will truly last a lifetime,' Alex said.

For the Millers, the experience was more than worth the year it took to arrange. 'There's no doubt this trip took a lot of planning. But I had so much fun doing it, and the memories will truly last a lifetime,' Alex said.

Are you a successful travel hacker or credit card points expert who has tips and photos to share? Email Mark Abadi mabadi@businessinsider.com.

Advertisement
COVID-19IndiaCases: 648kDeaths: 18.6kRecovered: 394k
COVID-19WorldCases: 10.72MDeaths: 517kRecovered: 5.86M
COVID-19USACases: 2.67MDeaths: 127kRecovered: 790k