Japan is a wonderful country to visit. It is possible to travel to Japan all with points and a small fee associated with booking. Travel Hacking will help you save money on your travel.
To Master Travel Hacking, you need the to master:
- Ways of Attaining Points Efficiently (Churning, Categorical Organic Spends, Manufactured Spending, Shopping Portals, Amex Offers, etc…)
- Finding Award Availability (Educating yourself on routes, tricks, booking time tables, airline miles partners optimization, hotel points system)
Getting points is easy but finding Business Class availability is becoming a lot harder. Redeeming for Business class will get you the most value for your points (5-10 cents per point).
I will usually fly ANA, JAL, Korean, Asiana, Cathay, Qatar to Asia,…those are way much better than US metals in terms of service and inflight amenities.
Best US to Japan Sweet Spots for Flights
American Airline Miles = Recommend redeeming AA miles for 60,000 Business Class one way on Japan Airlines. (You can also redeem 32,500 AA miles for Economy Class one way on Japan Airlines). Most available routes SEA-NRT or LAX-KIX(Osaka). You can try checking DFW,LAX,ORD,JFK also for Japan Airlines. Recommend booking 331 days out since that is the earliest you can book. Use Qantas program to find availability but now, AA will also show JAL on their search engine. Currently can buy 250,000 for about $4000 or can use the Citi AA Mailers Churning method. I don’t recommend buying miles unless you found availability in Business class and ready to commit the booking. But buying miles can be worth it (2 round trip J tickets definitely is more than $4K).
Alaska Miles = Alternatively you can also use Alaska miles to book Japan Airlines for a little less (25K one way economy, 50K one way business). Alaska is a bit harder to accumulate though since BOA now limit on how many you can churn.
ANA = can only book roundtrip. can transfer AMEX MR points. 50K economy roundtrip, great value and decent economy availability if book very early. 85-95K business roundtrip harder to find availability. Best route HOU-NRT for business and first class availability.
CATHAY = can use Asia Miles which is accepts AMEX MR and Citi Thank You but you are much better off using AA miles to get CATHAY flights for much better rate. CX can be cheaper but it depends on your airport of origin.
Qatar = will have to stop in Doha but love the sweet Q Suites.
Virgin = very cheap to book first class ANA flight than ANA miles.***
Best Japan Hotel Redemption:
Hotels in Japan are very expensive. This is where using hotel points can be very useful!
Transfer UR points to Hyatt. Hyatts in Japan can be often redeemed for 5000-15000 points per night!
Use Hilton free nights & Points. If you have Diamond status with the Aspire credit card, you can have free access to the executive lounge with is full of goodies. Often, you can save on Breakfast and Dinner by just eating in the free goodies in the lounge.
General Japan Tips:
Connivence Stores like 7 Eleven, Lawson, Family Marts actually sell very good food.
Basement of all Malls are food heavens. (There are called Depachika, a foodcourt/supermarket combo of sort.)
Trains are super efficient but can be expensive (bullet trains). If traveling between cities, flying can be cheaper and quicker especially using partner miles to book domestic JAL and ANA flights.
General Tip over all, use CSR or CSP to book all travel related things since it comes with very good travel insurance including TRIP DELAY. You get $500 per person to spend if your flight is delay by 6 hours with CSR or 12 hours with CSP. I have used this benefit before and it’s great!