A visit to any far off land is on everyone’s bucket lists. Visiting a far away and exotic place like the Maldives is at the top of the list for many seeking the ultimate and most beautiful beach getaway. Besides, climate change has doomed the Maldives to a finite shelf life and it may not be around for much longer. might seem unattainable for most. That’s with good reason too. Visiting the Maldives is not cheap. This beautiful archipelago is well known as the pedestal of honeymoon vacations. Places like the Maldives and Bora Bora evoke amazing turquoise beaches with luxurious bungalows stretching out into the ocean. Hotel chains pride themselves on building their most luxurious and expensive branches here with rooms renting for over $1,000 a night.
A thousand dollars a night for a hotel room may sound absurd to most. Coupled with international flights for two, food/alcohol, and you’re easily looking at $7000-10,000 for a 4 night trip. This puts a trip to the Maldives out of the realm of thought for most people. Thankfully in the United States, we have credit cards that give ridiculous rewards. Yes, even enough rewards to almost completely pay for a trip to the Maldives. With credit card sign on bonuses and points, it’s possible to make a trip to the Maldives nearly free.
I have yet to go to the Maldives, but it’s certainly on the list. When the time comes, this is exactly how I would “save towards being able to do a trip like this. I’m not talking about saving money, I’m talking about strategically applying for the right credit cards and using the sign on bonuses and rewards to successfully plan a trip to the Maldives.
This post is part of my comprehensive guide to travel hacking where I go into detail about how I fly for free, book the cheapest flights, and how to be an overall better traveler!
What you need
Alright, so you’re intrigued. You want to visit the Maldives and don’t have the means to save $10,000 any time soon. No worries, as long as you have the following, there is hope for you:
- There are two of you: This is just assuming that if you want to visit an expensive tropical paradise meant largely for honeymooners, there will be at least two of you going
- Good credit score: Since you’re applying for credit cards, you’ll need to have a good credit score (720+). Don’t worry, doing this won’t kill your credit score.
- Ability to spend at least $1,300/month: Most credit cards require you spend a certain amount of money within a certain amount of time. If you can’t spend that much in a month, then this
- Depending on how much you can spend per month, a time frame of 6-12 months
Obviously everyone has different tastes and preferences for how they’d like to approach a tropical beach holiday of this caliber. This is specifically how I would do a trip to the Maldives. You’ll need to tailor this to your own preferences. Personally, 4 days isn’t enough for me but I think 4 days at a ultra luxe resort in the middle of nowhere is probably enough. I would then move onto more engaging homestays via Airbnb or do a liveabroad dive trip around the archipelago. Nevertheless, for the purpose of this post, it will focus on a four night stay.
- Round trip flight from the US (I will use New York for this example) to Male, Maldives – (Approx. $1,000 per person)
- 4 night stay at the Park Hyatt Hadahaa in the Maldives – (Approx. $3,500 total)
- Private air transfer from Male to the island where the Park Hyatt Hadahaa is located – (Approx. $500 per person)
- Meals and Alcohol – (Varies, but approximately $700 per person)
- Totals: $4,000 per person, $8,000 total
This covers the bare minimum expenses. Once you get to the hotel, there is nothing to do besides appreciate the gorgeous ocean views which can get old. Say you want to do some water activities, this will not be cheap at a high end 5* luxury hotel like the Park Hyatt Maldives. Food and alcohol is not included in the nightly rate so depending on how much you plan on drinking, there are different dining packages available for different prices. Again, everyone has different preferences!
How to properly save for a Maldives trip
Sure I could save money the old fashioned way. I could download some gimmicky apps to stash away spare change I have. Consider how long this would take in practice though in your situation. If it’s likely that saving $4,000 to $5,000 just for a short trip to the Maldives seems impossible, then “saving” via applying for credit cards will certainly be more your jam.
There are so many great credit cards with great reward structures out in the market nowadays. There are countless combinations of cards one can get to do a trip like this. These are the cards I would open specifically and why.
My favorite credit card on the market. This card used to have a 100,000 sign on bonus (worth $1,500) when redeemed for travel but this recently ended as of March 12. Nevertheless, it still boasts a 50,000 sign on bonus worth $750 in travel, as well as a significant number of other perks like free access to Priority pass lounges, earning 3x points on travel and dining, and more. Chase credit cards are my favorite cards for a reason.
Bonus Terms: Spend $4,000 within 3 months to obtain the bonus
The Chase Ink Preferred business card offers 80,000 sign on points (worth $1,200 in travel when used with the Chase Sapphire Reserve). It is labeled a business but you don’t need a legitimate business to apply. This card, paired with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and its bonus will be ample ammunition for tackling an expensive trip.
Bonus Terms: Spend $5,000 within 3 months to obtain bonus
This is the most important card of the bunch and the reason a trip like this is even possible. The sign on bonus of this card is perhaps one of the most lucrative bonuses in the entire credit card industry. You get two free nights at ANY Hyatt hotel in the world. Yes, any hotel. Even the most expensive ones in Hyatt’s arsenal. The Hyatt Hadahaa is indeed one of their most expensive properties so using two free nights for a stay here will equate to almost $2,000 in reward value. Since there will be two people, each person can use their two free nights bonus and stack them together for a total of four free nights at the Park Hyatt Hadahaa!
Bonus Terms: Spend $2,500 within 3 months to obtain bonus
Not the best card out there but their sign on bonus is 50,000 points which is worth $500 cash for any expense. It’s essentially just a $500 statement credit which will come in handy for this trip.
Bonus Terms: Spend $3,000 within 3 months to obtain bonus
Adding it all up
With these four cards, you should be able to more than cover the costs of an expensive trip to the Maldives. Make sure to apply for one card at a time because if you do not satisfy the minimum spend requirements within 3 months, you will never be able to get the bonus.
In total, you’ll need to spend $14,500 in order to get the bonus for all these cards. This does not mean go out and buy a new car! Apply for one card at a time and just spend money like you would normally. Once the bonus requirements have been satisfied on one card, move on to the next one and so on.
|Card Name||Rewards Name||Sign on Bonus||Approximate $ value|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Ultimate Rewards||50,000||$500-$750|
|Chase Ink Preferred||Ultimate Rewards||80,000||$800-1200|
|Chase Hyatt||Hyatt points||Two free nights||up to $2,000|
|Barclaycard Arrival+||Barclaycard miles||50,000||$500|
How to plan a trip to the Maldives
Upon meeting all the bonus requirements, it’s time make the bookings. As I have yet to complete this trip in person, I can’t lay out a detailed example of how to book everything. For the most part, booking rewards on Chase’s ultimate rewards portal is easy. The Chase Hyatt sign on bonus is good for two free nights, so make sure each person books back to back two night stays to completely nullify the hotel costs.
|Expense||Expense Cost (per person)||Credit Card Used||Expense after bonus|
|RT flight USA to Maldives||$1,000||Chase Sapphire Reserve/Ink Preferred||$0|
|4 night stay at Park Hyatt Hadahaa||$2,000||Chase Hyatt||$0|
|Round trip local flight Male to Hadahaa||$500||Barclaycard Arrival+||$0|
|Meals and Alcohol||$750||Chase Sapphire Reserve/Ink Preferred||$0|
And there you have it! All costs mitigated through credit cards. Total money saved the old fashioned way? $0.