Lead image from Maui, Hawaii, January 2013


  • Miles & Points: 195,000; 4 free Fairmont hotel nights and suite upgrades
  • Cashback: $1,335

Continued cash back strength from a run of exceptional bank bonuses, which accounted for over 99% of the cash back for the month.  Miles and points earned were from upgrade offers, authorized user bonuses, and the rest of the sign up bonuses from my last round of credit card applications.


We booked our major vacation for the fall – a bucket list trip to the Maldives.  It had long been high on my list of destinations to visit, and after a bit of work to find award space, I had finally pieced together an itinerary that was (nearly) perfect.

  • Miles used for airfare (two travelers): 365,000
  • Fairmont free nights and upgrade certificates (Dubai): 2
  • Taxes and fees for airfare: $101.60 + 14,312 Arrival miles
  • 5 nights hotel in the Maldives: 380,000 points (plus $360 for room upgrades)
  • 1 night hotel in Abu Dhabi: 9,512 Arrival miles (will receive $40 rebate)
  • Positioning flights: 25,000 miles

Flights over were booked on Emirates business class with Alaska miles.  A two night stop over  en route at the Fairmont Palm in Dubai in an upgraded suite was secured using  free nights and upgrade certs earned from the Fairmont CC.  Our return trip will be with Etihad in their first class “Apartments,” using AA miles.  Our redemption came with a 10,000 mile rebate per passenger, applied to the cost of the trip above.  For our Maldives hotel, we booked the Conrad.  Since a trip to the Maldives isn’t complete without staying over water, we secured three nights in an over water “sunset” bungalow at a reason cost of $120 per night.

The “boring” stuff: additional miles were used for positioning flights – flights used to get our infant son to his grandparents for the 10 days we are away.  An overnight was required in Abu Dhabi on the way home – a reservation for an airport hotel on was covered with Barclay Arrival miles, and came with a $40 rebate, to be paid after the stay (making the estimated overnight cost ~$55).  Lastly, some of the taxes were also reimbursed using Barclay Arrival miles to lessen the overall out of pocket expenses

Also booked –

Another trip to visit my wife’s family in Boston/RI.

  • Miles used for airfare (two travelers, one infant): 13,200
  • Taxes and fees for airfare: $21



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