How to travel to the Maldives for free (Part 1)

The Maldives have been on my travel wish list for quite some time and I’m assuming yours as well. I would imagine most people would think they cannot afford to travel to the Maldives but they are wrong! So let’s examine how I would go about earning enough points to travel there for free on points. Today, I’ll start with hotels, and tomorrow I’ll finish with flights.

Lucky for us, many of the major hotel chains, which offer co branded credit cards, have hotels and resorts there. In this post, I’ll focus my attention on Hilton and Hyatt and their co-branded credit cards as I find them to be the easiest to earn rewards with. Unfortunately points redemptions will not allow you to stay in a on the water villa, however, you can often pay to upgrade to one of these rooms (it may be worth it to upgrade, if you get the rest of the trip for free).

Hilton

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort (picture courtesy of Hilton.com)

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort (picture courtesy of Hilton.com)

The Hilton group has the beautiful Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel. Nightly an entry level room goes for $1,400 dollars or 95,000 HHonors points. Hilton has 4 co-branded credit cards through Citi and American Express. If you apply for all these cards at their highest bonuses and meet the minimum spending requirements, you’ll earn 236750 HHonors points and 2 free nights. This will earn you 4 free nights and up to 5 if you do a bit more spending on the card. This may sound like a lot of work, but remember you’ll earn between $5,600 to $7,000 worth of hotels. If you have a significant other or friend willing to do the same thing, you’ll earn double!

Hilton HHonors Surpass Card by American Express
-Currently a 100,0000 HHonors bonus points offer, up from the normal 60,000 point offer. Earn 109,000 HHonors points after the $3,000 spending minimum (3x points per dollar on non bonus spending) and Hilton HHonors Gold status.

Hilton HHonors Card from American Express
-Currently a 75,000 HHonors bonus points offer, up from the normal 40,000 point offer. Earn 77,250 HHonors points after the $750 spending minimum (3x points per dollar on non bonus spending) and Hilton HHonors Silver status.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

-Earn two weekend night certificates after $2,500 in minimum spending, also earning 7500 HHonors points. This card will also give you Hilton HHonors Gold status. I have seen this offer increased to include 2 free nights and $100 in statement credit after your first $100 Hilton purchase. (Theoretically you could wait to meet the minimum spending until your third month that way you can use your two night certificate up to 15 months after signing up for the card and also allowing you to earn the annual night certificate after $10,000 in spending (another 30,000 HHonors points) Keep in mind though, the annual certificate will generally not be sent until one billing cycle after your 12 month anniversary and can take up to 6-8 weeks to be delivered cutting it very close to the 15 month mark on your two night certificate.)

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card

-Currently the sign up bonus is only 40,000 HHonors bonus points but I have seen increased offers between 60-75,000 HHonors bonus points offers. The spending requirement is generally around $1,000 earning another 3,000 HHonors points. You’ll also earn Hilton HHonors Silver status.

Hyatt

Park Hyatt Hadahaa (picture courtesy of Hyatt.com)

Park Hyatt Hadahaa (picture courtesy of Hyatt.com)

Hyatt hotels has the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa hotel. Nightly an entry level room goes for $825 or 25,000 Gold Passport points. Hyatt only has one co-branded credit card, however, Hyatt is also a 1 to 1 transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Chase Hyatt Credit Card
-Earn 2 free nights after $1,000 in spending and an extra 5,000 Gold Passport points after adding an authorized user and their first purchase. I have seen two increased offers of 50,000 Gold Passport points bonus or 2 free nights plus $50 in statement credit. Both offers also came with the 5,000 Gold Passport bonus after adding an authorized user and their first purchase.

**Before considering either of the Chase cards, please read Chase’s new 5/24 rule from Points with a Crew to see if your eligible.**

Chase Sapphire Preferred card (If you’d like to support my blog, click this referral link earning you the same 50k bonus and me 5k points ) 

-Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (50,000 Gold Passport points) after $4,000 in spending (an additional 4,000 Ultimate Rewards points) and earn an additional 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points after adding an authorized user and their first purchase. The 50,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus is increased from the normal 40,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus.

Chase Freedom  (If you’d like to support my blog, please send me an email (nick@pointstutor.com) and I can email you the same bonus offer while earning me 5k bonus points) 

-Earn 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points (15,000 Gold Passport points) after $500 in spending (an additional 500 Ultimate Rewards points) and an additional 2,500 points after adding an authorized user and their first purchase. This offer is increased from the normal 10,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus but less than the 20,000 Ultimate Rewards I’ve seen a couple times. The bonus is listed as $150 dollars, but the Chase Freedom card earns Ultimate Rewards points (transferable to your Chase Sapphire Preferred) that are redeemable for cash back (although I don’t recommend redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for cash back but instead transferring to your Chase Sapphire Preferred).

If you apply for all these cards, meet the minimum spending requirement, and add authorized users you’ll earn a total of 77,000 Ultimate Rewards points and 2 free nights. This is a total of 5 free nights worth $4,125.

Conclusion

The Maldives are beautiful and definitely expensive to travel to. Sign up for a few credit cards though, and you can travel there for free. I’m sorry to the non-US readers as I focused on U.S. co-branded credit cards, but please do look at your country’s major credit card issuers as they have sign up bonuses as well (although generally not quite as competitive).

Have any questions? Comment below!