Trip Framework – Go West! How It Was Accomplished

In case you missed it, this is a multi-part trip framework. You can catch up on all the segments here:


So, now to the nitty-gritty:  how do you accomplish this trip? To recap:

  • Amtrak:  New York to Chicago and Chicago to Seattle
  • Hyatt:  2 nights in Chicago
  • IHG:  3 nights in Seattle
  • Alaska Airlines:  Seattle to New York

Here’s the breakdown:

Items Points Used Cash Value of Points Cash Spent
1x Amtrak ticket New York – Chicago 19,424 Amtrak Guest Rewards miles

(18,453 if you have the Amtrak card)

$563.00 $0.00
2 nights Hyatt Place Chicago-Downtown/The Loop 0 Hyatt Gold Passport Points (2 free nights certificate used) $700.90 $0.00
1x Amtrak ticket Chicago – Seattle 27,635 Amtrak Guest Rewards miles

(26,253 if you have the Amtrak card)

$801.00 $0.00
3 nights Holiday Inn Express – Seattle City Center 60,000 IHG points

(54,000 if you have the IHG card)

$879.93 $300.00
1x Alaska Airlines ticket SEA-JFK 20,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles $263.10 $5.60

Cost of trip:  118,706 points and $305.60 ($459.60 if you include the annual fees detailed below)

Cost of trip without miles/points:  $3,207.93

Savings:  $2,902.33, or 91% off!

You’ll need five cards, and that equates to $5,075 in spending over the course of 90 days (about ~$1,692 a month) if you do it all at once, you can also stagger the cards and do a couple at a time. So which cards make this possible?

Card Annual Fee Spending Requirement Bonus Points Notes
Bank of America Amtrak Guest Rewards World $79 $1,000 in 90 days 20,000 points You will have at least 21,000 Amtrak points from this card.
American Express Starwood Preferred Guest $0 for the first year, $95 every year after that $3,000 in 90 days 25,000 points You will convert 25,000 SPG points to 25,000 Amtrak miles
Chase IHG Rewards Club Select $0 for the first year, $49 every year after that $1,000 in 90 days 60,000 points Use all these points at Holiday Inn Express – Seattle City Center
Chase Hyatt Credit Card $0 for the first year, $75 every year after that $1,000 in 90 days 2 Free Nights Use these free nights at Hyatt Place Chicago-Downtown/The Loop
Bank of America Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Visa Signature $75 $0 25,000 miles

Some of these cards are great longterm investments, like the Amtrak card and the IHG card, so I would recommend keeping those and ditching (or downgrading) the other cards when the yearly fee comes due.

So there you have it! Go west, my friends!

Note:  This trip is planned for 1 person, but the only additional cost if you wanted to bring a friend would be another 20,000 Alaska Airlines miles, as the Amtrak roomettes are the same price, regardless if you have one or two people on the reservation.

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