7 Ways to Travel in Ultra Luxury (Using Only Points and Miles)

Wondering what all you can get with those points and miles? Here are seven ULTRA luxury vacation options to inspire you.
Last updated Jun 3, 2021 | By Lee Huffman
7 Ways to Travel in Ultra Luxury (Using Only Points and Miles)

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One of the greatest benefits of earning miles and points is being able to take luxurious vacations that you would never pay cash for. Once you've redeemed miles for a flight in Business or First Class, it’s hard to return to Economy seats. The same goes for being pampered at five-star hotels at resort locations around the world.

But vacations like this can literally cost thousands of dollars if you were spending money instead of rewards. Yet, travel like this is attainable for the average family by using the power of airline miles and hotel points.

If you're looking for inspiration on where to go and what's possible with your rewards, here are seven ways you can use your points, miles, and some of the best travel credit cards to travel beyond your dreams.

In this article

Singapore Suites using Amex Membership Rewards

The Singapore Suites offer complete privacy with individual cabins for First Class passengers. The suites include a sliding door, window blinds, a chaise lounge, and a large table. While flying Singapore Suites on Singapore Airlines, you'll also enjoy a separate bed, not one converted from your seat. And when traveling with a partner, adjacent suites can be converted into a double room. You can also "book the cook" and reserve your main course up to 24 hours before your flight so you can dine in a restaurant setting with full table service.

To book the Singapore Suites, you'll need miles in your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account. Lucky for us, KrisFlyer is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points, and all three programs’ rewards transfer on a 1:1 basis.

Singapore Suites using Amex Membership Rewards


The cost in points for the Singapore Suites varies based on the flight distance and whether you are booking a Saver or Advantage ticket. You can search for award space and book your flight on the Singapore Airlines website. The flight I chose can be booked for only 40,500 miles one-way or $3,050.

To earn enough miles for this trip, you could get a Citi Premier Card. With this card, you can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. It earns 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases, and has an annual fee of $95.

Earn Valuable Travel Points Even Faster

Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier Card

Citi Premier Card

Intro Offer

80,000 points

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

up to 3X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 80,000 bonus point sign-up offer
  • 3X points in several popular categories
  • No foreign transaction fee

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Water Suite using Hilton Honors points

The Maldives is on the bucket list of many travelers because of its remote location and the abundance of overwater bungalows. The Conrad Maldives does not disappoint with its unique experience of eating five meters below the surface in the Ithaa undersea restaurant. It offers a total of 12 world-class restaurants and the country's first undersea wine bar.

Rooms can be booked at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island starting at 95,000 points per night. For those with a huge balance of points, the Sunset Water Villa is available for 1,639,000 points (or $4,835) per night. 

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Water Suite using Hilton Honors points


However, that may not be necessary because the regular Water Villas also offer sunset or sunrise views with a plunge pool in 925 square feet of living space. These rooms can be booked for 95,000 Hilton Honors points (or $1,083) per night.

To get enough points to book a Water Villa, you could apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which has a $450 (See rates and fees) annual fee. Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This card will also earn you 14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases.

Fabulous Rewards for Hilton Fans

Intro Offer

150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Annual Fee

$450

Rewards Rate

up to 14X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 14X points on eligible Hilton purchases
  • $250 in annual Hilton Resort credits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • High annual fee
  • Best for frequent Hilton travelers
Card Details
  • Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases
  • Terms apply

Cathay Pacific First Class using Alaska Airlines miles

The First Class suites of Cathay Pacific feature an in-chair massage, Bamford bedding with 600-thread-count linens, and the ability to convert into a large, private working area. You can even enjoy an a la carte dining option, so you can eat on your schedule, not the airlines. Cathay Pacific partners with Michelin-starred chefs to craft First Class menus that will delight the most sophisticated of palates.

To book this flight, you'll first need to find award space availability on the British Airways or Qantas websites, then call Alaska's customer service to finalize your reservation. It may seem like a hassle, but the value of this redemption makes the effort completely worthwhile.

Cathay Pacific First Class using Alaska Airlines miles


Don't let the big price tag of British Airways award flights scare you. Once you find award space available, you'll be able to book the flight for only 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles each way.

Cathay Pacific First Class using Alaska Airlines miles


You can earn Alaska miles by applying for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card. You’ll earn a $100 statement credit and 40,000 bonus miles (+ round-trip coach companion fare) after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days. This credit card also comes with a companion fare each year when you renew the card.

Earn valuable Alaska Airlines miles

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card

Intro Offer

40,000 miles

Annual Fee

$75

Rewards Rate

up to 3X miles

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles and a $100 statement credit in your first 90 days
  • 3X miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases
  • Multiple travel perks when flying with Alaska Airlines
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn a $100 statement credit and 40,000 bonus miles (+ round-trip coach Companion Fare) after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days
  • 3X miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1X miles on every $1 spent on other purchases

JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa Grand Ocean Front Suite using Marriott Bonvoy points

Cancun is a popular destination to live the luxe lifestyle within a few hours of the U.S., and the Grand Ocean Front Suite offers affordable luxury at the JW Marriott Cancun. You'll have 1,345 square feet of comfort to spread out and relax. Plus, you can enjoy the gorgeous ocean views for your large private balcony.

Standard rooms at the JW Marriott Cancun start at 50,000 points (or 25,000 points and $190 in cash) per night. But you can upgrade to the Grand Ocean Front Suite to get about three times the size of a room for only 75,000 points (or 50,000 points and $125) per night. The price for Grand Ocean Front Suite varies by season, but I found nights starting at $390 (including taxes) for May of 2020.

JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa Grand Ocean Front Suite using Marriott Bonvoy points


If this trip sounds good to you, you might want to check out the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. It is one of the best credit cards for the wealthy or those who want to travel like they are. Earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months (plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months) of opening this card. Spending with this card also earns 6X points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on all other eligible purchases.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card also comes with a $100 annual Marriott statement credit and a free night award that can be redeemed at properties for up to 50,000 points per night. Complimentary Marriott Gold status is also included with the annual fee of $450 (See rates and fees).

Luxury Hotel Benefits

Intro Offer

75,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points

Annual Fee

$450

Rewards Rate

up to 6X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months
  • Earn up to $200 in statement credits on purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first six months
  • 6X points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • Annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months (plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months)
  • 6X points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Showering in-flight in Emirates First Class using Japan Airlines miles

Few things in life define luxury as well as being able to take a shower at 40,000 feet. Of course, the shower water is limited to five minutes, but you can always extend the experience by turning the water on and off. Your First Class amenities when flying Emirates also include a lie-flat seat, gourmet meals, and an onboard lounge with a private bartender. You can even close the door to your seat to create a private suite.

Although Emirates is a transfer partner of Chase, you could also choose to book this experience using Japan Airlines (JAL) miles. For 65,000 miles, you’ll get pampered for a full nine hours from Hong Kong to Dubai.

Showering in-flight in Emirates First Class using Japan Airlines miles


If you were to pay cash for this luxury flight, it would cost you almost $7,000! Instead of spending that much cash, book your flight on the Japan Airlines website with miles received by converting Marriott Bonvoy points. Marriott points transfer on a 3:1 ratio to JAL and there is a 5,000 bonus when you transfer in 60,000-point increments. This means you'll need to transfer 180,000 Marriott points to have the 65,000 JAL miles to book this flight.

You can work toward this trip by opening up the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card. This card earns 17X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (when coupled with your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy membership and Silver Elite status) and 2X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. Plus, cardholders receive one free night (up to 35,000 points) each year when they pay the $95 annual fee to renew the card. New cardholders can earn 125,000 bonus points (plus 1 bonus free night award) after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

A Great Card for Travel Rewards Beginners

Intro Offer

125,000 bonus points (plus 1 bonus Free Night Award)

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

up to 17X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 125,000 bonus points (plus 1 bonus Free Night Award) after qualifying purchases
  • Up to 17X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy
  • One free night each year
  • No foreign transaction fee

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • No introductory APR
Card Details
  • Earn 125,000 bonus points (plus 1 bonus Free Night Award) after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 17X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (when coupled with your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy membership and Silver Elite status) and 2X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases

United Polaris using Chase Ultimate Rewards

Polaris is the latest iteration of the premium-class experience from United Airlines. Your Polaris experience includes Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, restaurant-quality dining, and Sunday Riley premium skincare products. Exclusive United Polaris lounges are also located in Chicago O’Hare, Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, and San Francisco, with more on the way.

I found non-stop United Polaris flights from Newark, New Jersey, to Frankfurt, Germany, for only 60,000 miles each way (120,000 miles round-trip). This Saver Award space was actually cheaper than the 80,000 miles required for a Premium Economy seat, and the cash price for this round-trip ticket would have been $2,990.

United Polaris using Chase Ultimate Rewards


United Airlines is one of the many transfer partners in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, so that means you can transfer your Chase points on a 1:1 basis to United. You can earn the points for this trip with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. With this card, you'll earn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

The card also earns 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases, and it charges an annual fee of $95.

New, Higher Sign Up Bonus - Worth $1250 Toward Travel

Intro Offer

100,000 points

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

up to 5X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Best offer ever! 100,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10% anniversary point bonus each year
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Typically need to spend thousands to reap rewards
Card Details
  • Earn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases

Delta One Suite using Virgin Atlantic miles

Delta One Suites have a dedicated in-flight cabin attendant, lie-flat seats, and Westin Heavenly bedding. Select flights also feature full-height doors and dividers between center suites for additional privacy. Guests will enjoy TUMI amenity kits with luxurious travel essentials.

Booking flights in the Delta One Suites with Virgin Atlantic miles can often require fewer points than booking directly with your Delta SkyMiles. For example, a flight from Detroit to Amsterdam in a Delta One was 122,500 Virgin Atlantic miles versus 160,000 Delta SkyMiles when I checked recently (with a cash price of $4,000).

Delta One Suite using Virgin Atlantic miles


Thankfully, Virgin Atlantic is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, and points transfer on a 1:1 ratio from American Express to Virgin. So, you can make major headway toward this trip by opening up an American Express® Gold Card. That's because you can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of opening the card.

The Amex Gold Card also earns 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. And cardholders can receive up to $120 in dining credits each year. The card does have a $250 (See rates and fees) annual fee.

Big Rewards for Dining Out

Intro Offer

60,000 Membership Rewards points

Annual Fee

$250

Rewards Rate

up to 4X points per dollar

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months
  • Rose gold is back! Choose your color.
  • $120 in dining credits
  • $120 in Uber Cash
  • Select benefits require enrollment.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $250 annual fee. Terms apply.

Drawbacks

  • No lounge access benefit
  • Has annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 6 months
  • 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

Which ultra-luxury trip are you booking?

Airlines and hotels continue to one-up each other with even more luxurious options in the hopes of offering the most desirable destinations. But you don’t have to be rich to travel luxuriously. Using the power of airline miles and hotel points, you can book vacations like these for a fraction of the normal cost.

These seven examples are just a small slice of what’s possible in the world of miles and points. With consistent earning of points and miles with our travels, credit card spending, and online shopping, it is easy to earn enough rewards to book dream vacations.

New, Higher Sign Up Bonus - Worth $1250 Toward Travel

Intro Offer

100,000 points

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

up to 5X points

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Best offer ever! 100,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10% anniversary point bonus each year
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Typically need to spend thousands to reap rewards
Card Details
  • Earn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases

Author Details

Lee Huffman Lee Huffman is a former financial planner and corporate finance manager who now writes about early retirement, credit cards, travel, insurance, and other personal finance topics. He enjoys showing people how to travel more, spend less, and live better. When Lee is not getting his passport stamped around the world, he's researching methods to earn more miles and points toward his next vacation.