Doing New Zealand with points

8

Fresh off the plane from New Zealand, Greg shares highlights from his trip Down Under and we discuss the best ways to get to and stay in New Zealand using points and miles. While this can seem like an “impossible award”, we discuss how to make the impossible possible.

Elsewhere on the blog this week, I share an unpopular opinion about Chase Ultimate Rewards and dig into some of the easy foreign airline transfer programs you should be using and the challenging ones you shouldn’t ignore. Stephen’s guide to Best Rate Guarantees could save you a bundle and Greg showcases a great splurge via Hyatt and SLH. Watch, listen, or read on for more of this week from Frequent Miler.


01:06 Giant Mailbag
03:06 What crazy thing . . . did Chase and Aeroplan do this week?
09:47 Mattress running the numbers
15:56 Awards we booked this week
21:35 Main Event: Doing New Zealand with points
23:36 United Polaris mini-review
30:48 Qantas business class mini-review
37:23 Ways to book to NZ on points
42:53 Cheapest way to NZ on points in business class
47:24 How to book impossible awards
49:48 The best program for impossible awards
54:27 What are your options for staying in New Zealand?
54:48 Park Hyatt Auckland
1:03:27 The George (SLH via Hyatt)
1:17:14 Eichardt’s Private Hotel (SLH via Hyatt)
1:21:24 The Carlin (SLH via Hyatt)
1:24:36 Other options on points in Queenstown
1:24:57 Holiday Inn Express
1:33:55 Question of the Week: Can you do a free stopover in Honolulu on an Alaska award?

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This week on the Frequent Miler blog…

Chase needs to stop banking on Hyatt (on Nick’s mind)

Chase Ultimate Rewards is a perennial favorite transferable currency system, with many people focusing their efforts entirely on earning Chase Ultimate Rewards. But, in my opinion, Chase’s partners are weak compared to competitors. If Chase were to lose Hyatt or Hyatt were to significantly devalue, I would probably lose nearly all interest in Ultimate Rewards. That’s a lot of eggs for Chase to put in one basket. I think it’s time for Chase to look for another compelling partnership or two.

Eichardt’s Private Hotel: A gem in Queenstown New Zealand bookable with Hyatt points

Need a counterpoint to “Chase Ultimate Rewards isn’t that good”? Exhibit A could easily be Greg’s recent stay at Eichardt’s Private Hotel. Hyatt’s partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the world makes gems like this one accessible with Hyatt points — and many of us play the game precisely for outsized luxury like this.

The easy foreign airline frequent flyer programs you should be using

Using foreign transfer partners can seem intimidating since you may have never flown on Avianca or visited the Air France website. But those programs (and several others) can be very easy to use and in some situations they can save you a lot of miles or money or both. In this post, I review several of the foreign transfer partners that you should try out right now — they are probably far easier to handle than you expect.

Challenging award programs you should put up with

Map world globe travel

Some of the sweetest rewards come from programs that require a bit more effort. This post covers several programs where I think the juice can be worth the squeeze. The hands-down best of these programs to try to master is ANA. On this week’s podcast, we discussed ways to get to New Zealand using points and there’s no doubt that ANA, at 120K miles round trip in business class and with a free stopover allowed, is one of your best bets. These programs might require more time or effort, but putting some work in now could mean saving a lot of miles and/or enjoying more luxury down the road.

Here’s How Hotel Best Rate Guarantees Work (Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, IHG & More)

Hotel Best Rate Guarantee

Stephen’s post about Best Rate Guarantees could save you a bundle. I admit that I don’t use these programs often enough, but that’s a mistake — my past experiences with Best Rate Guarantees have mostly been quite positive and they have enabled me to enjoy the benefits of booking direct while being sure to get the best price. As Stephen shows in this post, your savings in some cases could be significant. In my case, the savings from a Best Rate Guarantee has sometimes made an award stay less appealing with the cash rate so cheap. This post is worth a bookmark so you can come back and use it when booking paid stays.

Turkish Miles & Smiles Complete Guide (increased change fee; Citi transfers now instant)

One of the “challenging foreign programs” in the corresponding post above was Turkish Miles & Smiles. We republished this complete guide to the program this week with a couple of small updates because readers have pointed out that the change fee has increased substantially from $25 to $70 and transfers from Citi are now instant. Everything you need to know about booking Turkish awards is included in this post.

Amex Platinum Complete Guide (free Centurion Lounge guests ending 2/1/23)

A small update came out this week to our Amex Platinum Complete Guide and it was a note of which I was disappointed to be reminded: Amex Platinum cardholders will no longer get free guests in a Centurion Lounge as of 2/1/23. This change will no doubt be applauded by those tired of Centurion Lounge overcrowding, and I’m happy for those folks who will be able to regularly enjoy a less crowded lounge, but I’m also disappointed that I haven’t had a chance to use a Centurion Lounge in years and likely won’t use one again since I’m not willing to pay the fee to get my kids in the door.

Bottom Line Review: Hyatt Centric The Liberties Dublin, Ireland

Hotel Review Hyatt Centric The Liberties Dublin

If you’re planning to visit Dublin and you intend to clink a glass or two, Stephen has the location for you. This Hyatt Centric sounds like it is very much centrally located, particularly for those looking to enjoy some whiskey and/or the Guinness Storehouse. Neither is my cup of tea, but I could certainly appreciate the value in being within a walking distance of your hotel if those stops are in your plans.


That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler, but keep your eye on Last Chance Deals to make sure you don’t miss any deals set to expire in the week to come.

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Kelly Loeffler

Is there any way to please include the timestamps like you guys used to do? It makes it so much easier to watch parts and them come back and watch other parts later… I don’t generally have an hour to sit and watch the entire thing at once. Thanks!

Ivan Y

What is everyone doing for booking hotels/motels in NZ? There’s InterContinental in Wellington and Park Hyatt in Auckland but not sure what to use for smaller towns on the North Island (e.g. Rotorua). Any ideas?

P.S. Flying on Fiji Airways using Alaska miles is a very good tip. Since you get a free stopover on Alaska, you can search flights to/from US first and then figure out dates from NAN to Australia/NZ. And you can use multi-city option to book flights online.

coffee18

If you can find space, Fiji Airways J via AS is a great value at 55k pp. I booked a return SYD-NAN-LAX for Labor Day.

Departure to AUS/NZ was a real struggle, I was already late in trying to book this. Turns out BR flies to BNE. I was able to ticket ORD-TPE-BNE in J for 80k pp via Avianca.

BenA

Great show! Have learned a lot from this site.

I would like to share my booking to Australia and NZ . My wife and I are going 3/20-4/18 this year. This is what I was able to book for the trip. totals are for 2
Qatar Atl-Doh-Syd. 4 hour layover in Doha 240,00 avios through Qatar which is business atl-doh and for first class on A380 from Doh-Syd
Syd -Queenstown on Virgin Australia business booked for 27600 points on Etihad Guest with transfer from CapitalOne.

Auckland to Cairns Qantas business booked with 50,000 AA

Melbourne to SFO via NRT on Japan Airlines 180,000 Asia Miles

SFO-ATL United First class 100,000 miles

I booked flights on Air New Zealand on several segments from Queenstown to Auckland and on Qantas from Cairns to Adelaide to Kangaroo island to Melbourne for cash. I have an old Amex blue sky for which I used for these flights which can cash out at 7500 points for $100. I had used that card before learning much about maximizing rewards and was waiting for time to use.

My total cash cost to me for this trip was $1710 which include award fees.
Total points or miles 570,000. This seems like a lot of points but feel like a lot of value for example the Atl-Syd flight on Qatar cash at time of booking was $16,000.

I did all this booking last April, May ,early June. I booked the Qatar flight first when came across the reward. I then had some difficulty finding a return flight but was finally able to find the JL flight. This set my time frame and we knew we wanted to visit Australia and NZ so then developed trip with a boutique travel agency and then I searched for the internal and connecting flights. Coming back to SFO could not find award flight at first to Atl but using my 2 IHG credit card free nights we are staying at Kimpton on fishermans wharf for the 2 nights until found an award.

Tom

Congratulations on an epic booking! Enjoy the trip!

Chad

Actually lowest biz class to AKL from west coast is Fiji Airways 55K/person one way with stopover in Nadi using Alaska miles on A350-900.

Johnny

I hate podcasts. I love yours.