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Overwater villas, white sand and strawberry daiquiris — these are the images we conjure up when thinking about the Maldives. One of the most aspirational vacations for every type of traveler, we often spend years saving up for the ability to sleep a few nights above the waves. But these perfect beaches can come at a hefty price.
Travelers don’t always have to break the bank to get to paradise. There are plenty of affordable options when it comes time to redeem points for these hotels. A recent partnership between Choice Hotels and Citi ThankYou points has dropped costs even further. Whether you’re looking for Maldives hotels for a honeymoon or just wondering how to go to the Maldives for cheap, here’s a look at how to stay in a resort for rock-bottom pricing.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
The Citi ThankYou and Choice Hotels partnership
Earning Choice Privileges Rewards points is easy thanks to its co-branded credit card and partnership with three different flexible point currencies. Two of these, American Express and Capital One, allow you to transfer points at a 1:1 ratio. This means that one AmEx or Capital One point will become one Choice point.
However, Citi ThankYou points have also launched a transfer partnership with Choice, and its rates are far better than those offered by AmEx and Capital One. The exact ratio you’ll receive depends on which Citi card you hold:
Being able to transfer your points over to Choice Privileges at up to a 1:2 ratio effectively halves the cost of all award bookings using your Choice points — even in the Maldives.
» Learn more: Is the Citi Premier Card worth its annual fee?
Booking Preferred Hotels & Resorts with Choice points
Choice is generally known as a budget-friendly option for travelers, with a wide footprint and locations across the world. It doesn’t feature many high-end hotels, which has long left it out of the running when it comes to aspirational vacations.
However, Choice also has a partnership with Preferred Hotels & Resorts, a portfolio of luxurious independent properties where you can redeem Choice points. Redemptions range from 25,000 to 55,000 points per night, and although there are over 650 Preferred Hotels & Resorts locations, just 398 of those participate in this partnership with Choice.
You can find which hotels are involved by visiting the dedicated page, which allows you to search for hotels by location, including an enticing property within the Maldives.
» Learn more: The best ways to redeem your Choice Privileges points
How to go to the Maldives for cheap
The Noku Maldives is a 50-room hotel participating in the partnership with Choice Hotels. When using Choice points to book, you’ll be staying in the base room; at this hotel, that means you’ll be tucked away inside a 1,800-square-foot beach villa.
Rooms at this property cost 55,000 points per night, which is a steal considering the nightly rate, including taxes, stretches to nearly $1,000 for two people.
But remember that the Citi and Choice partnership allows you to transfer Citi points at a 1:2 ratio. You can probably see where we’re going with this.
If you hold either the Citi Prestige® Card card or the Citi Premier® Card, you’ll need to transfer 27,500 points per night needed to stay at this hotel. You can only transfer points in increments of 1,000, so it's probably best to transfer enough points for two, four or six nights, so you don't have any leftover.
At this rate, you’re redeeming your Citi ThankYou points for a rate of 3.4 cents each, more than double NerdWallet’s valuation of 1.3 cents per point.
Earning Citi ThankYou Points
Now that you’ve figured out where and how to stay in the Maldives for cheap, you’ll want to earn some Citi ThankYou points. If you don’t already have the Citi Premier® Card, acquiring one now can jump-start your stay in the Maldives:
Citi Premier® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, earn a total of 10 ThankYou® Points per $1 spend on hotel, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.
At this rate, earning the welcome bonus can snag you a little over two nights at the Noku Maldives. You can continue to earn more Citi ThankYou points with 3 points per dollar spent on hotels, air travel, restaurants and gas.
However, if you’re really looking to amp up your earnings, you can choose to pair your Citi Premier® Card with either the Citi Double Cash® Card or the Citi Custom Cash® Card.
The Citi Custom Cash® Card offers a rotating 5% return on the first $500 in eligible purchases each month, including broad categories such as dining, entertainment and groceries.
On their own, these cards don’t earn ThankYou points that can be transferred out to partners. But that changes if you also hold a Citi Premier® Card. With the Citi Premier® Card, the points they earn become flexible and can be converted to Choice Privileges Rewards — even at that 1:2 ratio.
» Learn more: Why the Citi Double Cash is now a rewards powerhouse
If you want to book Maldives hotels for cheap
As the ultimate beach vacation, you’ve probably seen a photo or two of starry-eyed guests lounging in their villas. Although it may seem unreachable, a series of partnerships make this destination affordable for the average traveler. Combining a Citi Premier card with the Choice and Preferred Hotels partnership unlocks beach villas in the Maldives for just 27,500 points per night, making this the cheapest reward redemption around.
The information related to the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card