My Trip To Kauai, Hawaii And How I Reduced My Expenses Tremendously.

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I have just arrived back home in Los Angeles after having a wonderful vacation in Kauai, Hawaii. One of my goals this year was to go on a relaxing vacation, since it’s probably been about five or six years since I’ve had one.

The cost didn’t really matter to me that much, though it had to be within reason. It ended up being a pretty expensive trip, though after adding all of the expenses, I realized it wasn’t too pricey. I actually reduced my expenses by a lot.

I believe it is important to have a balance between work and pleasure, therefore going on this trip was pretty important to me and I wasn’t too concerned about the cost. Yet, I put in an awful lot of time into finding the best deals and ways to reduce the cost without reducing the experience.

I packed one bag and left every electronic device, besides my phone at home. I thought it was crucial to have a completely different experience while being away from home.

reduce travel cost

I know it is very easy to get sucked back into your regular life again when you have access to your laptop or iPad. I saw it all the time during my trip. Families sitting at breakfast, lunch and the dinner table not talking to each other. They were all having an iPad or iPhone in front of them, just staring in front of them for about an hour or two without saying a word. It was pretty scary to watch actually. I was glad I was free from my “normal” life and enjoyed every bit of it. Even though I had my phone with me, I barely used it and left it in my room most of the time.

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I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai for nine days, which was an amazing experience. The hotel was a bit pricey, but I was able to reduce some of the costs tremendously by using something we all have access to. A simple credit card. Now before I say which credit card, I want you to know that I am absolutely not writing this as a sponsored or promotional post. I simply had a wonderful time on my vacation and mainly because of this credit card, I was able to reduce my cost and have a nicer experience then if I wouldn’t have had it.

What credit card am I talking about? An American Express credit card to be exact. I know people like exact numbers and facts, but I also like to keep certain things private. So I’ll try to show you as clearly as possible how I was able to reduce some of these costs. This by simply being resourceful and using the perks I had already access to. I’m sure there are plenty of other credit cards out there that have similar perks and could give you tremendous deals. For now, let’s have a look at some of the expenses and how I reduced them. Here we go.

The Flight

First of all, I booked a flight through Hawaiian Airlines. I was able to use some perviously earned American Express points to cover an entire flight, roundtrip. Result, there was no need to pay for the flight. This already easily saved me around $500. The way you can rack up these points is by simply spending money on your credit card and eventually having gained enough points to cover your flight.

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The Hotel

The hotel itself is known to be pricey. I chose a room which costs about $550/night, though I actually ended up paying less. When I arrived at the hotel, I was able to be upgraded to a higher room through American Express. The moment I arrived at the hotel, the front desk manager was searching for possible upgrades. They told me every possible upgrade was already occupied for the duration of my stay.

I called Amex and explained my situation to them. They asked me to sit tight and wait for a call back, so I did. An hour later I received a call back from Amex. Not only did they upgrade me to a suite which would cost between $850 – $1350 per night, I was able to have this room while still paying for my original price ($550). Not only that, but I also received every 4th night free. Meaning, at the end of my bill, Amex had deducted $1100 off of my total bill, since there were two “4th” nights included in my trip. The 4th night and the 8th night.

Food

Breakfast at the hotel costs about $64.35 per day, for two people. This was waved and paid for by American Express. Because of the upgrade I had received I was able to have access to their Club program. This meant that I had access to a dinner buffet and snacks at any time, for free. I probably only spend $100 on food off of the resort during those nine days by going out to eat in a few other restaurants. There was no need for lunch. Their breakfast was huge.

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Transportation

I rented a car using “Budget”. I rented the smallest Sedan possible, since I knew I wouldn’t really drive that much. There was no need for car insurance since American Express covers Car Rental Insurances. In nine days I used less then half a tank of gas and drove around half the island of Kauai twice.

Airport

Me and my girlfriend both had 1 bag we checked in each time we flew. Both to and back from Kauai. Which turned out to cost about $100 since each checked bag costs $25 per flight. This was covered by American Express as well since they grant a $100 expense bonus on your trip.

Conclusion

American Express saved me a ton of money on expenses. There were a few other expenses and deductions that I didn’t mention on here. Bottom line is that the use of credit cards and rapid rewards points can clearly pay of. I honestly chose that hotel, because I knew I was able to have access to a ton of deductions and upgrades. I don’t think at the time (updating this article currently) I would have paid the full standard amounts. I knew I would only go if I could figure out was to deduct the total cost by a lot.

I’m not trying to sell Amex here, even though I love them. I just wanted to share and show how to use and take advantage of some of these amazing perks credit card companies have to offer. Not all credit cards have the same perks and provide the same possibilities and opportunities, but this is a perfect example of one that did provide tremendous perks. Some people say some credit cards with high annual fees are not worth it. That is because you will only see those pay off when you use them where they shine. In this case, while traveling.

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  1. Wow, I think you got incredibly lucky with AMEX! Especially since their T&C state the upgrade program (I’m assuming you were referring to the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts) is subject to availability, so they really went the extra mile for you. Personally, I don’t think I’d ever spend $550/night of my own money on a hotel, especially in a place like Hawaii where there’s so much to see and do. I just booked some cheap flights to Honolulu for January and I’ll probably end up booking something in the $130-150/night range, which is still a good chunk of change for me. Fortunately I can use AMEX points to help offset some of those costs.

    Hope you had the relaxing trip you were hoping for!

    1. Hey Mr Nerd!

      They indeed did go the extra mile. When Amex asked me to wait for 10 min upon arrival at the hotel before checking in, they were trying to make a few things happen. They called back an hour later with a new offer which included the upgrade, at my old price. I was extremely surprised, because the front desk manager mentioned there were no upgrades available at all. It was my first time in Hawaii and I have to agree, there is so much to see and to do.

      For me, this was a relaxation vacation. The first one in years, so I went all out as you can see :-). I don’t think I did anything besides chill at the pool and went on two hikes. So to me, this was worth it and I was extremely glad I could reduce some of my costs with the power of Amex.

      Glad to hear you play around with Amex’s points as well. Free money and they do go the extra mile. I did get the relaxing trip I was hoping for :-).

      All the best,
      Peter

  2. I love American Express and use them for all of our travel. We are going to Hawaii in October and will book through Amex. Can I ask if you are Platinum? We have Gold, so would we be eligible for the upgrade also? Thank you!

    1. Hi Michelle!

      I have the Platinum. Make sure to call Amex before you arrive in Hawaii. My wife and I carefully planned our trip and looked at possible upgrades. When we arrived at the hotel we did run into trouble but because we prepared ourselves and talked to Amex before we already created a “case” with them. This allowed us to get help fast when we arrived in Hawaii and they told us there weren’t any upgrades available anymore. Even though the hotel manager said there wasn’t anything available, Amex made it happen. It may take a few minutes, but they can do magic.

      Enjoy your trip!

  3. There’s a much better way to save money while on the Islands. VRBO, Discount Hawaii Car Rental, Alaska Airlines companion fare and BCAA trip insurance. 16 nights in Hawaii, 7 on Kauai and 7 on Maui for $3500 for 2 people. That’s with rental car upgrades (convertible and SUV) and 4 star condos. Includes everything but spending.

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