Author Topic: From East Coast US to Japan Paid for Entirely In Points-How?  (Read 1193 times)

StacheyStache

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From East Coast US to Japan Paid for Entirely In Points-How?
« on: November 25, 2017, 08:10:49 AM »
I saw the thread on going to Tokyo but didn't want to derail:  I'm a newbie to credit card hacking.  I have two cards, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Sapphire Preferred and currently have 90k in points between the two.  It took more than a year to get to this point and the CSP's minimum spend for the 50k bonus was difficult (we made it, barely, by timing vacation expenses and putting all living expenses on the card, including SO's, and having SO pay me back his half of living expenses in cash for those three months as opposed to keeping all expenses separate.  Our incomes are average and we have low expenses).

For awhile now I've been eyeing a trip to Japan with SO sometime in 2019.  Dates are very flexible including the year.  He has never traveled internationally and I have only traveled once (Ireland) almost ten years ago.  This is a bucket list item for both of us.  The goal is to pay for the flights entirely in points.  He is open to getting his own cards but this may be difficult as he made some mistakes with credit about four years ago before we got together (all credit card debt is now paid off and he uses debit exclusively, his good credit score has been restored, but there is a black mark on his credit report.  We think this will impact him getting a premium rewards card). 

We would love business or even first class flights but it's not a necessity by any means.  We have more than a year to plan.  What do I need to be doing now to make this possible?  Also any tips for the best (re: cheapest) time of year to go, or tips in general, particularly for people who a. haven't traveled frequently internationally and b. don't speak the language?  I'm a little concerned about getting around.

Edit:  As the title suggests, we are in the US on the East Coast. Not exactly a hop skip and a jump for us.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 08:15:58 AM by StacheyStache »

lbmustache

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Re: From East Coast US to Japan Paid for Entirely In Points-How?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2017, 10:53:41 AM »
People in Japan are incredibly nice. I would not worry about the language barrier much... now you're not going to find everything in English, and not all are fluent in English, but there are lots of pictures, the transportation system is easy to navigate, and you can get by with lots of pointing haha. Again, most people are willing to go out of their way to help.

Cheap times of year will probably be winter and summer. Fall in Japan is beautiful, as is spring (cherry blossom season). Winter in Tokyo is OK, it's cold and bleak, but I had no issues (besides being cold). Summer is awful (humid, wet, etc.) so I would not recommend.

Japan is by far the coolest place I have been to. Fascinating place. Also, every single food dish I had was amazing (like, the Italian food was mind-blowing). You'll love it!

EconDiva

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Re: From East Coast US to Japan Paid for Entirely In Points-How?
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2017, 10:01:44 AM »
You have a lot of time to plan so that is great.  I don't really have much specific advice...just use this time to research things you want to do. 

It sounds like you will need more points to cover 2 roundtrip tickets there so you need to work on that.  Will you be paying for accommodations with points as well?  If so you have a ways to go.  FYI I stayed in the Conrad Tokyo (paid for by work) and the Best Western in Yokohama (paid for by myself-like $80 US a night)...literally night and day in accommodations.  Best Western in Yokohama had an awesome $8 breakfast buffet I'll never forget by the way.

As far as timing I'd go in April personally during cherry blossom season.  I didn't see you mention how long you're staying for and what all cities you plan to visit (only Tokyo?).

Edited to add:  Unless you just have a ton of points lying around, I wouldn't worry about getting a business or first class ticket personally.  Unless there are certain physical issues that make it harder for you to travel in economy.  I would rather put those points towards also covering accommodation costs personally. 
« Last Edit: November 28, 2017, 10:09:20 AM by EconDiva »

MrGville

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Re: From East Coast US to Japan Paid for Entirely In Points-How?
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2017, 11:56:16 AM »
Glad I saw this thread, my wife and I are travelling from east coast to japan in February and all flights and accommodation are covered by points.  Going to be sweet! We had a large stockpile of points to use, but could have used much less points if we did not decide to splurge on fancy hotels and first class flights for the flight home. 

We used Delta skymiles for our flights (35k points per ticket to Tokyo in economy and 80k per ticket home in first class).  So round trip in economy on Delta would be 70k miles.  I know you can transfer Chase points to United and get round trip economy tickets for 70k points.  I don't think you can get a better deal that that from the east coast. 

How many points (and what kind) do you currently have?

For our trip, we used Delta, Marriott, and Chase UR points. 

« Last Edit: November 28, 2017, 11:59:05 AM by MrGville »

loyalreader

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Re: From East Coast US to Japan Paid for Entirely In Points-How?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2017, 12:19:13 PM »
I would consider both (if you can) signing up for Chase United cards when they offer the big point bonuses for a certain spend in the first few months. I looked at flights from Dulles (DC) to Narita last year and with points it would have cost me $50 for a round trip flight, non-stop. Not 'free' but pretty close.

I cancelled my United card last year so I could be past the 2-year window and sign up again when we take a trip to Japan in 2020. Good luck and hope you have a great trip.

bacchi

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Re: From East Coast US to Japan Paid for Entirely In Points-How?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2017, 12:50:44 PM »
I would consider both (if you can) signing up for Chase United cards when they offer the big point bonuses for a certain spend in the first few months. I looked at flights from Dulles (DC) to Narita last year and with points it would have cost me $50 for a round trip flight, non-stop. Not 'free' but pretty close.

Yeah, the Chase United card is the way to go when Chase starts offering 40-60k miles again.

If you're having trouble meeting the minimums, you can always get the Barclay AA card, which is 60k AA miles for an annual fee ($90). You could then fly biz class from JFK-->TYO and fly United on the return trip.