Article written by guest blogger: fMD. He has extensive experience and knowledge of points and travel hacking. He’s accumulated millions of points from dozens of creating cards and utilizes tricks of the trade to earn even more points and travel free with his wife all over the world!

It all started with a text message on the morning of December 26th. We had a flight to New York scheduled for later in the day and I hadn’t packed yet, but this came first. It was a message alerting me about the most recent Delta price glitch. I hopped on my computer and found that priceline was still working for these tickets and I tried purchasing a bunch of itineraries. I got itinerary numbers for them but was then informed by priceline that these tickets could not be ticketed. I was bummed and a few days went by where everyone and their dog got these amazing tickets but I didn’t. Well, a few days later I heard that Delta was honoring these priceline tickets. I called Delta and sure enough, I got them to honor SAN – HNL and SAN – CLE tickets for me. I was so psyched!

I paid about $70 for my Hawaii tickets. I used my Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® to pay for it.

Well, turns out I needed to alter some flight times. These were non-refundable tickets and Delta was not happy about changing ANYTHING on them. Though I got lucky, the flight was delayed by about one hour and Delta allowed me to change to a flight with a shorter layover on the same day. I also managed to get economy comfort seating for free. I have a tip for doing this which I may share later 😉

Next, we wanted to get to Maui so I booked a roundtrip form Honolulu to Maui using 15,000 Delta SkyMiles.

TIP: We were flying from San Diego to Honolulu, then a second leg on Hawaiian Airlines (booked through Delta) to Maui. I got the Delta agent checking us in at San Diego to send our bags all the way through so we didn’t have to pay a baggage fee to Hawaiian Airlines.

Now that I had the flights sorted out – we’d be in Maui for 5 days and Oahu for 2 days – it was time to book hotels. I opened a few American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Cards and got a 20% off Gold member renewal coupon. I booked 5 nights at the Sheraton Maui for 48,000 SPG points (it was a category 5 hotel, now it’s a category 6). Then I booked 2 nights at the Royal Hawaiian for 32,000 points using my 20% coupon.

TIP: I call SPG about suite rates. The Royal Hawaiian had junior suite awards for 22,500 points which I would’ve booked but I wasn’t allowed to combine it with my 20% coupon.

TIP: These resorts have $25+/day resort fees. I used my Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® card to pay for these!

So we took our flight from San Diego to LAX to Honolulu to Maui and were exhausted when we arrived. I ended up using priceline for a rental car. I ended up picking Hertz because I was really close to building up enough points for a free week. Guess which card I used…yup, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.

TIP: Keep searching! The rate per day fluctuated from $50/day down to $16 a day where I reserved it. The car was about $120 for 5 days after all the taxes and fees.

We hopped in the car and as soon as we did, it started to rain (Welcome to Hawaii!) we headed to the Sheraton and were greeted at the entrance with lays. The lady behind the counter was very nice and upgraded us to an ocean view room (thank you SPG gold status!). This is the view we woke up to:

The Sheraton Maui

The Sheraton Maui

The Sheraton Maui is right in front of the famous black rock which offers some decent diving. Overall, I really enjoyed our stay here and the staff was very friendly.

TIP: Hotel expenses can usually be paid for using your Barclays arrival card if you put them on your hotel bill (cough* massages cough*)

I highly recommend going to Maui, the Island is amazing and I would use up the internet trying to describe everything there is to do there

TIP: Get Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook. It’s an excellent resource!

Stop at fruit stands:

a food stand with fruit and vegetables

Go to the northern tip of the island:

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 11.13.43 PM

Or south down the Road to Hana (lots of waterfalls):

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 11.20.54 PM

We said good bye to Maui and flew to Oahu. Unfortunately, Hawaii air wasn’t very accommodating in helping my SO and I sit together and while I was out of my seat trying to get things sorted out another FA moved someone into my seat. Luckily it was a short flight.

I rented a car from Advantage Rent a Car and had a really pleasant experience. It was $66 for 2 days.

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 11.22.10 PM

Red cars are the blondes of the autosphere. They just have more fun.

Honolulu was not our style, way too many people there. However, the Royal Hawaiian was our style. They treat you like royalty at the pink palace and we felt well taken care of. People here go above and beyond to make sure you’re happy, which we were!

The bed was amazing!

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 11.24.06 PM

Unfortunately, our trip to paradise had to end and we headed back home. Overall we had an unbelievable trip and pay almost nothing for it. Here’s the breakdown:

Barclays $440 bonus (plus about $70 from portal spending) roughly covered:

  • $150 for 2 flights
  • $190 in rental cars
  • $175 in resort fees

SPG points used:

  • 32k + 48k = 80k

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®