How I Travel-Hacked My Way to Kuala Lumpur for a Week

My biggest and favorite redemption thus far, the following combination of points has blessed me with the opportunity to travel to Asia for the first time ever. In this post, I’ll briefly mention how I got these points and I’ll explain how I used them to redeem $2000 worth of travel.

**Green denotes what I got for free or paid for with points/miles. Red denotes what I actually paid money for**

45K Citi ThankYou Points

  • I got these Citi points from a sign-up bonus for the Citi Prestige Card. These points can be transferred to airline programs OR they can be redeemed for 1.6 cents/point for American Airlines and their codeshare partners OR they can be redeemed for 1.33 cents/point for all other airlines. In this case, I used them to redeem about $600 worth of airfare for our two round-trip China Southern flights from LAX to Kuala Lumpur (0.0133*45K = $600). The rest of this airfare, about $250, I paid for with cash.
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China Southern isn’t too bad! Especially when I paid only $250 out-of-pocket for two roundtrip flights to Southeast Asia!
  • Beyond the sign-up bonus, though, the Citi Prestige allowed me AND the fiancee to use Admirals Club lounges, the KAL Lounge in LAX, and the Plaza Premium Lounges in both Kuala Lumpur and Guangzhou for my layover. This is due to the fact that the Citi Prestige comes with Admirals Club access when flying with American Airlines AND it comes with Priority Pass Select, which allows you and two other companions to enter Priority Pass contracted lounges free of charge. I must say that the lounges in Asia are AWESOME. They are spacious, have comfortable seating, and they have DELICIOUS food and drinks! Waaaay better than domestic lounges.
  • The Citi Prestige also comes with a $250 airline credit each calendar year. So at the beginning of January, I used that credit to book me two one-way flights back home from LAX to DFW for the end of my trip. Because it was for Spring Break, the total costs of these flights came out to be an overpriced $320. After the credit, I paid $70 out of pocket. 
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My travel experiences have vastly improved after getting this credit card. Too bad some of their benefits are being cut in July 2017 😦

27K Delta Skymiles

  • I got these miles from a 50K sign-up bonus last year. I had already used 25K for my trip to New York, so I used the remaining amount for 2 one-way DFW-LAX flights for the beginning of my trip for 13.5K Skymiles/flight. These flights would have cost me $350 otherwise.
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Our layover after our Delta flight was spent mostly at the KAL lounge at LAX. Sandwiches, noodles, fruits, drinks, showers, and plenty of comfortable seating!

40K Hilton Points

  • Finally, I used 40K of my Hilton points (leftover from a 75K sign-up bonus from April 2016) to book 5 nights at the incredible Doubletree Hilton in Kuala Lumpur. The Doubletree Kuala Lumpur has long been known as one of the best redemption options for Hilton Honor members at just 10K points per night. In addition, if you have at least Silver status with Hilton, you get your 5th award night free. So instead of redeeming 50K points, I got to redeem only 40K. If I had paid cash for a Deluxe Suite, which I got upgraded to, it would have cost me just south of $750 for five nights at this 5-star hotel. That’s a point valuation of 1.875 cents/point which is incredible for Hilton’s inflated points program (typical valuation of 0.5 cents/point).
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  • I also have Diamond status from a status match back in April 2016 and through that I was able to get access to their extensive breakfast buffet everyday of my stay for free. As a Hilton Diamond, I was also entitled to Executive Lounge access which provided free canapés (which could honestly be used as a substitute for dinner) and free alcohol every night I was there. Basically, I didn’t ever have to pay for food, but that would have been silly because KL is FILLED with delicious and cheap food.

In the end, we ended up paying only $160/person to just cover the remaining cost of our flights. **This does not take into account the costs of the food, local transportation, and shopping that we did in KL (everything was SUPER CHEAP though).** I must admit that this actually may not have been the best use of my points and miles value-wise… but I’m happy with my redemption nonetheless. The airfare was cheap, the 5 nights at the hotel were free, the lounges were free, and most of the food was free. Most importantly, though, we had an amazing and unforgettable experience. The points and the miles can only get you there but everything else is up to you! Thanks for reading, stay tuned for a trip report!

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