This is the first in a series of articles called TWM Take Me Away! where I will pick a destination a reader wants to go to and show you how to get there for free with miles!
A reader contacted me recently:
“I am taking the time to message you right now because I want to go to Bali at the end of August for my birthday and I’m trying to figure out how much to save to have. And also around what months should l look into buying a flight ticket.”
I priced out a ticket around those dates on Kayak.com and the cheapest I could find was $1401 on Delta for JFK to DPS (the airport in Bali) via LAX and TPE which seemed like a decent price since you are flying halfway around the world. Business class was over $6,000! But the name of this site is Traveling With Miles not Traveling with Cash, so lets see how we can get there for free.
1. Use 70,000 or 110,000 American AAdvantage Miles to book OneWorld flights.
According to the American Airlines OneWorld chart on this page, you can go from North America to 70,000 Miles round trip in economy class and 110,000 Miles Round trip in business class. I checked and there is some availability on Cathay Pacific which has a great business class product if you can be flexible on dates throughout August.
It is a 15 hour flight from JFK to HKG so I would definitely recommend business class. As a general rule, for any flight 5 hours or more, I try to do business class if I have the miles because it makes the experience much more pleasant.
If you wanted to get these miles, you could get 50,000 from the Citibank AA Platinum Personal MC, then wait 65 days and apply for the 50,000 Mile Citibank AA Platinum Business Mastercard. That will give you more than enough for a coach ticket and almost enough for the business class seat. With a some of our online shopping deals for American Miles, you should be able to make the difference up easily.
2. Use 65,000 or 120,000 United miles to book on Star Alliance
This price will change drastically on February 1 when United changes their award chart so if you happen to want to book this trip, do it now. I just did a search and found a coach flight departing from EWR to DPS via TPE on EVA and then returning from DPS to EWR via TPE and LAX (on EVA and United on the way back).There was also business class availability for 120,000 and $25!
To get these miles, you could start with the 40,000 miles from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card you get after spending $3,000. After 93 days (the minimum for chase to apply for multiple personal cards) you could get another 50,000 from the Chase United Explorer (will need to be logged into your MileagePlus account to see this offer). You could also take advantage of some online shopping for miles like I did with the 1800 Miles for $75 shopping and 12-16X Miles shopping at Sears.
3. Use 80,000 or 120,000 Delta miles or 70,000 or 125,000 Korean Air to book on SkyTeam
I have included two options here because you may have either type of mile. I picked up 30,000 Delta Miles when I got a Suntrust debit card, and 100,000 when I did some Skymall shopping. I am also including Korean Air because they are a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards which might be easier to earn miles with. FYI, the Delta business prices are going up February 1, and the Korean Air prices are going up on June 1.
If you can find availability on Korean Air flights (which you could book with either type of mile) for JFK to DPS via ICN (Seoul), then you should be able to get the above pricing if you are flexible about your travel dates.
To get these miles you could get 30-50,000 Skymiles by getting the Delta Amex card at this link. But I would recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for 40,000 Ultimate Reward Points, then getting the Chase Ink Bold for 50,000 more.
For hotels, it looks like the best values are either the Grand Hyatt property or use cash and points at one of the SPG properties.1. For 12,000 Hyatt Gold Points per night you can stay at the Grand Hyatt Bali
2. For 10,000 SPG points + $180 cash a night you can stay at the W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak. This can be especially rewarding if you have Platinum status with SPG and could possibly get upgraded to a suite.
3. For 6000 SPG points and $110 a night you can stay at the Le Meridien Bali
4. And for only 3000 SPG points per night you can stay in the super secluded Sheraton Senggigi (although it is on a different island than bali so you might have to find your way there)
For the Grand Hyatt property, they are a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards so the Chase Sapphire Preferred 40,000 bonus could help you out. For the SPG properties, the 25,000 mile bonus from the SPG Amex and the SPG Business Amex could get you some free nights.
5. Another good option might be to get the Barclays Arrival card and then use the $400 sign up bonus (40,000 points you can redeem for $400 in travel expenses) just pay cash for a reasonably priced hotel or hostel or bed and breakfast you find there.
Whew! That was a lot of information! But I hope that this shows you how you can get to Bali for free with a little planning.