Australia is one of my favorites countries to visit. Especially when you can use miles and points for an almost free trip! Here’s how to take a $26,000 trip to Australia for $208.
We flew roundtrip First Class from the United States to Australia and stayed in five star hotels for 8 days for a tiny fraction of what our vacation would normally cost. All thanks to travel hacking.
$26,000 Trip to Australia for $208
We fell in love with Australia when we first visited in 1994.
This was our second trip and it was even better. Because this time instead of paying cash, we used miles and points.
So we got a fantastic $26,000 trip to Australia for $208.
Here’s how we did it.
Jeff and I flew First Class from Honolulu to Sydney on Hawaiian Airlines.
You can read my review of our First Class Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu Sydney Flight for $63.
American Airlines used to allow a free stopover in Hawaii when you flew to Australia. So our flights were free. Technically the Hawaii portion was free but I already calculated those into our free trip to Hawaii.
On the way back, we couldn’t get two First Class seats on the same flight so I flew First Class on Qantas from Sydney to Los Angeles with a stop and plane change in Melbourne. I picked this flight because the Melbourne Los Angeles flight was on an Airbus A380.
My flight cost 72,500 American Airlines miles and $102.20 in airline taxes and fees.
Jeff flew First Class from Sydney to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines. Then he flew First Class on American Airlines from Honolulu to Dallas and then from Dallas to San Diego.
His flight was 72,500 American Airlines miles with airline taxes and fees of $106.10.
We stayed at four different hotels in Sydney. This gave us a chance to see more of the city, save time and money on transportation, and save money on food because of hotel elite status.
Best Western Plus Hotel Stellar
Our first night, we stayed at the Best Western Plus Hotel Stellar in a King Deluxe Room for 20,000 Best Western points.
The hotel is walking distance to several sites including the Australian Museum.
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel
Then we moved to the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel. Who doesn’t love a gorgeous flat iron building!
We used 50,000 Radisson points to stay 2 nights in a 1 Bedroom Spa Suite. We saved 50,000 points because the Club Carlson Premier card offered the second night free on award stays of two nights or more. This benefit is no longer offered on the card.
Hilton Sydney Hotel
To be close to the heart of the city we stayed 2 nights at the Hilton Sydney Hotel in a King Executive room. This made it easier to take the morning train to visit the Blue Mountains.
Our stay was free thanks to the 2 free nights from the Citi Hilton Reserve card. (This card is no longer available.) The card came with free Gold status which meant access to the Executive Lounge for free breakfast, tea, drinks, and evening canapes.
Park Hyatt Sydney
For our last 2 nights, we used the World of Hyatt credit card’s 2 free nights to stay in a King with Opera View Deluxe room at the Park Hyatt Sydney. Check out the current signup bonus on the World of Hyatt credit card.
You can’t beat the views! And it made for a short walk to the ferry to visit Manly Beach.
As you can see, on our second trip to Australia we only paid $208 for 10 days.
We also saved on activities, tours, transportation, and food. Read the How to Luxury Guide to Sydney for $85 a Day for a complete breakdown.
Since this trip, I’ve visited Australia a third time and spent two weeks.
How to Earn the Miles and Points
The fastest way to earn miles and points is through credit card signup bonuses.
I’ve been earning airline miles and points since 1994 so I already had the American Airlines miles.
But if I didn’t have the miles, these cards earn American Airlines miles:
- Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
- Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World World Elite Mastercard
- Citi AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard
- CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard
- Citi American Airlines Gold MasterCard
Knowing that we wanted to go back to Australia, I applied for the Citi Hilton Reserve, the Hyatt card, and the Club Carlson card. But now the signup bonuses are different and the Citi Reserve is no longer offered.
Cards That Earn Hilton Points
Here are the cards that earn Hilton points:
- Hilton Honors American Express Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Cards That Earn Hyatt Points
You can earn Hyatt points by getting the World of Hyatt card or one of the many cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Hyatt on a 1:1 ratio. Points transfer instantly so you can quickly book hotels without waiting.
These cards earn Hyatt points:
- World of Hyatt credit card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Easy Ways to Earn Miles and Points
Credit card signup bonuses are the fastest way to earn thousands of miles and points. But there are a few tricks and easy ways to earn miles and points without welcome offers.
I use a combination of extreme mile and point collecting and an easy & quick way to earn unlimited miles and points.
Look for the latest travel rewards cards.
Who would have thought a $26,000 trip to Australia for $208 was possible? It is, and you can do it too.
By getting new credit cards, or just the best card for travel hacking, using cards that give you bonuses, and creatively spending, you can travel the world with miles and points.
You can even travel hack Hawaii, Las Vegas, and Europe.
Where was your favorite trip using miles and points?
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Sunday 29th of December 2019
WOW!!!! Planning a 2020 May trip to Australia. I’m skeptical about doing the trip for anywhere close to that price. Obviously, time is of the essence!- New credit cards means membership fees, plus minimum purchase of 3, 4K or more within 3-4 months.
Tuesday 17th of April 2018
You found yourself a pretty amazing deal! But of course, that was a trip you had to plan for quite awhile in advance. We also save miles and hotel points, but we don't collect them at a very fast rate. Still, every little bit helps make travel more affordable. I'm also super impressed with the quality of hotels you were able to stay in. Way to work the system!
Tuesday 17th of April 2018
OMG. $208? I'm ashamed to say what I spent going to Australia! But... I have finally earned my free hotels.com night AND I earned my bonus points on a credit card so I'm pretty stoked. Guess I need to read the extreme post and try to figure this all out
Tuesday 17th of April 2018
Australia is high on my list of countries to visit and your tips have given me another ray of hope. I am sure to save a lot of money following them. Right hotel so much important in a foreign country and by choosing it correctly a lot of money can be saved. Would try to get hold of these hotel membership to save more. I am yet to master the art of saving through air miles.
Tuesday 17th of April 2018
Hey Debra! I am blown away by this - I had no idea you were a points maven!! I am clearly needing to work better at this based on my travel style. That is a fabulous trip for basically the cost of groceries. Well done!