Credit Cards

Credit Card Guide: First Class to Japan

The Wonder of Japan

Japan, what a beautiful country. There are countless shrines, trails, and Onsen that will take your breath away. The food will make your mouth water and you will never forgive yourself if you don't grab a cup or two of pour over coffee after eating some warm Taiyaki from a street vendor. Despite all of the wonderful experiences that Japan has to offer, it is over 6,700 miles away and has a +14 hour time difference. This makes travelling there difficult because you will be exhausted on arrival and have trouble adjusting to the new timezone. For me, flying in first class made that transition very smooth and staying in nice hotels definitely made resting a breeze.

The Trip

On my flight I had a bed, free alcohol, and all the food I could eat. All of this aided me in getting enough rest to feel good when I landed. I am grateful that I was able to splurge on First class because it made the 13 hour flight go by in the blink of an eye. As for hotels, I alternated staying at 5 star hotels and traditional ryokans throughout the entire trip so that I could make sure that I had both comfort, and the traditional Japanese experience.

A large chunk of my stash was used on this trip because it was always my dream to visit Japan. In total, I spent 580,000 points for this trip between the following:

I will break down my accommodations further in another post, but continue on to see the cards that got me the points I needed for this trip.

The Card List

Credit CardBankSign Up Bonus *
PlatinumAmerican Express80,000 MR
Business PlatinumAmerican Express110,000 MR
Business GoldAmerican Express80,000 MR
Ink PreferredChase80,000 UR
Ink Preferred 2Chase80,000 UR
Bonvoy BusinessAmerican Express80,000 Bonvoy
Bonvoy BrilliantAmerican Express130,000 Bonvoy
Total640,000 Points

*Sign up bonuses may be targeted. The bonus I received may no longer be available or may not be available to you. The sign up bonus column also includes the points earned from minimum spending.

The Process

It took me about a year to get the points needed for this trip but I had the planning done in my head much farther out than that. For most of the required spending, I used the service Plastiq to pay rent and used reimbursed work expenses which added to my typical organic spending. This was done at a casual pace, so if reaching the spending requirements is manageable on a shorter timeline, then all of these bonuses can be gained in as little as 6 months.

When applying for cards at a high velocity, it is very important to keep in mind the rules that banks have for applications. Each bank has different criteria when reviewing a credit card application so the best way to optimize your planning, is to be familiar with them all. To start, I did a breakdown for all of Chase's rules. Regarding Amex, I think it is best to reference Doctor of Credit because I have not had time to do my own breakdown yet.

Looking Forward

Now that you have seen the cards it took to get here (currently sipping tea at my ryokan in Kawaguchiko), I hope you can see that getting enough points for this once in a lifetime trip is very attainable. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out or comment. I will be posting my trip report when I return home so if you want to see how amazing the hotels and Japan in general were, keep an eye out.


P.S. I have been toying around in my head with the idea of providing personal credit card coaching at a reasonable rate so I may be adding that to the site soon.

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