Singapore is known for having South East Asia's most expensive hotel rates. Expect to pay US$200 and more for a decent (not luxurious) hotel.
What if you could stay in Singapore for 30 days for just $8.40/night in a classy hotel? If you have a VIP status with Hilton this would also get you breakfast and access to the Executive Lounge including free drinks. It's also most likely you will spend your time in a suite.
Best of all, this deal is available 365 days a year and you can cancel and change all the time!
You think that's insane? Welcome to the world of travel hacking.
Here are the ingredients we need in order to make this happen:
1) The location
You will actually stay in Johor Bahru, which is just outside Singapore in Malaysia. It's practically a suburb for sea-locked Singapore. Travel time to Singapore by taxi (or car) is just about 20 minutes. Taxis are cheap in Singapore. Alternatively there's a lot of public transport including buses and the MRT.
2) The hotel
The DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Bahru is a brand new hotel which looks superb and comes equipped with suites and an Executive Lounge for Hilton HHonors VIP members.
If it is anything like the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur (which I reviewed here) it will make you re-discover the brand in a very positive way!
3) The points
So how do we get the points? You guessed it – Manufactured Spend. As shown in our guide to make one million airline miles a short while ago, you can buy gift cards at supermarkets and get your money back at Walmart.
If you have an American Express Hilton Surpass card this will give you 6 HHonors points in any supermarket or gas station.
Since Hilton HHonors throws in the 5th night free, if you redeem for 5 nights you need just enough points for 24 nights. That is 120,000 points for 30 days.
120,000 Hilton HHonors points translate into $20,000 in gift cards. Each $500 gift card has a $5.95 fee. This will cost you $238.
Since you should never exceed $3,000 in buying money orders at Walmart with your gift (debit) cards, you have about a week of 'work'. Cost for the money orders will be $14.
Once your statement closes and the points hit your account you can make the bookings at Hilton.com.
The total will $252 or $8.40 per night.
Have I done this before?
I haven't stayed at the DoubleTree in Johor Bahru but I have done all the steps before.
I bought gift cards in a supermarket and cashed them out at Walmart.
I have booked hotels for 5,000 points a night with Hilton.com
I have been upgraded to a suite and enjoyed Executive Lounge access in Kuala Lumpur several times.
Will this hold?
Yes, absolutely – for a time!
Manufactured Spending techniques keep on changing and may disappear. Hilton may change the award chart.
However, I do not expect any sudden changes. For now this is a great opportunity for an extended work vacation in Singapore.
See you all there 🙂