How to Travel to Charlotte on Points and Miles

Charlotte, North Carolina, is an American Airlines hub, so it's easy for AAdvantage members to find cheap award flights there.

Ramsey QubeinJul 22, 2021
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One of the largest cities in the Southeast and home to the headquarters of banks like Bank of America and Truist Financial, Charlotte, North Carolina, is a popular destination for business travelers.

The Charlotte area also has excellent art and cultural museums, including the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the U.S. National Whitewater Center and an amusement park called Carowinds. Proximity to nearby lakes, mountains and plenty of outdoor activities make Charlotte a great destination for the active traveler, too.

Getting to Charlotte

Nearest airports

As American Airlines’ second-largest hub and one of the busiest airports in the nation (top 10 in the world based on takeoffs and landings), Charlotte Douglas International Airport bustles with flight options and activity.

The airport is about 7 miles west of the city center, with multiple options for reaching the airport. A Sprinter bus goes from Uptown (that’s how Charlotte refers to its downtown area) to the airport in less than 30 minutes for $2.20. Taxis, rideshare services and rental cars are other options, and Silvercar can pick you up and take you to an Audi dealership (or deliver the car to you) for a more luxe rental car experience. Here’s how to travel to Charlotte on points and miles.

Major airlines flying to Charlotte

Most North American carriers fly to Charlotte. Two international airlines serve the airport: Volaris has flights to Mexico, and Lufthansa offers flights to Europe.

Flying to Charlotte on points and miles

Here are cheap and simple ways to get to Charlotte using points and miles.

On American Airlines

Since Charlotte is a major American Airlines hub, you can find good deals redeeming American Airlines AAdvantage miles. American offers regular web specials to cities around the country. Sometimes you can find a one-way flight as low as 5,000 miles. An easy way to search for these is by entering a destination in the online award map. If available, you will also find web specials when searching cities and dates on aa.com or the American Airlines app.

Holders of certain American Airlines credit cards can access Reduced Mileage Awards — discounted one-way award flights to dozens of destinations that change monthly. A complete list is available online, with details on which credit cards are eligible. The list includes Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® and AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®.

Without one of these special deals, a one-way flight to Charlotte from within the continental U.S. starts at 12,500 miles.

United Airlines

United offers expanded award availability (no blackout dates on awards) for its co-branded credit cardholders like the United℠ Explorer Card.

American’s award chart makes it easy to know how many miles you need for a flight but for most other airlines you might fly to Charlotte, including Delta and United, the only way to know how many miles you’ll need is by searching for flights on the airline website.

Other tips for flying to Charlotte

As a major hub, Charlotte Douglas International Airport has some amenities worth checking out when planning your Charlotte trip with points and miles. Its famous rocking chairs trace their origins to a 1997 art exhibit about Southern porches that used real rocking chairs in the displays. When the exhibit at the airport ended, the rocking chairs, which were a hit, stayed, sparking a trend in airports nationwide.

  • Lounges at CLT: There are two American Airlines Admirals Club lounges in Charlotte — one in Concourse B the other between Concourses C and D. There are two Priority Pass options at the airport — both Minute Suites locations that provide one hour’s use of a nap room. A Centurion Lounge is located between Concourses D and E, which makes connecting through Charlotte especially comfortable for travelers with The Platinum Card® from American Express and other qualifying American Express cards. Terms apply.

  • Navigating the airport: Though all concourses are connected, the walk between the A gates and the E gates can be quite long. There is no tram, train or bus to ease the journey, so bring your walking shoes.

Hotels on points in Charlotte

Business travelers will most likely be staying in Uptown, but leisure visitors too will appreciate the many museums, shops and restaurants there. Uptown is also where most concerts, theater performances, festivals and sporting events take place. Bank of America Stadium, where the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers play, and Spectrum Center, where the National Basketball Association’s Charlotte Hornets play, are both Uptown.

Among many other popular areas of town are SouthPark, with its shopping center and numerous hotel options, and Ballantyne, the southern part of the city. Here are some of the top hotels to book with points in Charlotte.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott is on a roll in Charlotte, with plenty of options at all price points including more than a dozen hotels in the Uptown area alone.

The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte

Photo courtesy of Marriott

The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte is perhaps the city’s most luxurious Uptown hotel. It is popular with business travelers during the week and shoppers and leisure visitors on weekends. The hotel is located opposite the Epicentre entertainment complex. Don’t miss the Punch Room, its 19th century-style speakeasy with craft cocktails using small-batch spirits and local ingredients.

Cost to book in points: As a Category 6 Marriott Bonvoy property, a redemption night costs between 35,000 and 60,000 points.

JW Marriott Charlotte

Photo courtesy of Marriott

The city’s newest Marriott property, the chic JW Marriott Charlotte is located in the Uptown area across from the Charlotte Convention Center and not far from the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Bank of America Stadium.

Cost to book in points: A redemption night for a standard room at this Category 5 property goes for between 27,500 and 40,000 points.

Grand Bohemian Charlotte, Autograph Collection

Photo courtesy of Marriott

Also Uptown, the Grand Bohemian Charlotte, Autograph Collection boasts impressive artwork and Argentine-inspired decor. A rooftop bar provides an excellent vantage point of the skyline.

Cost to book in points: A redemption night for a standard room at this Category 5 property goes for between 27,500 and 40,000 points.

The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel

Photo courtesy of Marriott

Surrounded by lush gardens, The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel in southern Charlotte offers a resort experience complete with an impressive day spa and recreational options like tennis and golf.

Cost to book in points: A redemption night for a standard room at this Category 6 resort goes for between 35,000 and 60,000 points.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cent each. New cardmembers who sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card can earn welcome bonus points: Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. The card comes with a chance to earn an annual free night award valued up to 35,000 points, which works at Marriott Bonvoy hotels in Categories 1 to 5.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is also offering welcome bonus points for new cardmembers: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. This card’s free night award is worth up to 50,000 points, making it redeemable at hotels up to Category 6 in the Bonvoy program. Terms apply.

You earn bonus points for using either card to pay for qualifying Marriott stays, helping the points pile up faster.

If you want status without committing to a Marriott Bonvoy-branded credit card, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, which comes with automatic Marriott Gold Status (enrollment required). Plus, the card is currently offering a welcome bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. Those points can typically be transferred to the Bonvoy program at a 1:1 ratio.

Hilton Honors

Hilton’s offerings in Charlotte skew more toward the business traveler than high-end luxury seeker.

Canopy by Hilton Charlotte Southpark

Photo courtesy of Hilton

Close to great SouthPark shopping and dining, the Canopy by Hilton Charlotte Southpark offers loaner bikes to explore the area as well as a free shuttle to get around. There are also occasional evening drink tastings in the lobby. Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members are eligible for a space-available upgrade, which is a nice perk.

Cost to book in points: Standard rooms tend to cost between 27,000 and 39,000 points per night. NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent per point.

How to earn Hilton Honors points

If you’re looking to stock up on Hilton Honors points, consider one of the brand’s two credit cards that come with a free weekend night certificate, among other benefits.

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with Hilton Honors Gold status and has the following welcome bonus: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 8/25/2021. Plus, enjoy $0 intro Annual Fee for the first year, then $95. Offer expires 8/25/2021. Terms Apply.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with top-level Hilton Honors Diamond status and also offers new cardmembers a chance to earn bonus points: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

If you want Hilton Honors status or the ability to book with points but don’t want to commit to a Hilton Honors-branded credit card, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, which comes with automatic Hilton Honors Gold Status (enrollment required). Those points can be transferred to the Hilton Honors program at a 1:2 ratio. Terms apply.

Other hotel programs

Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel

Photo courtesy of Kimpton

The Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel is close to major Uptown attractions and business offices and is part of IHG Rewards. Its rooftop bar, Merchant and Trade, is a local favorite and a must-experience for visitors. Guests can expect signature Kimpton perks, like a complimentary happy hour with beer and wine each evening, in-room yoga mats, and free loaner bikes to cycle around town.

Cost to book in points: IHG Rewards members can often find rooms here for around 25,000 points per night, though prices vary depending on when you travel. NerdWallet values IHG Rewards points at 0.8 cent each.

How to earn IHG Rewards points

There are a couple of IHG Rewards-affiliated credit cards that can help you earn lots of points. The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card also comes with Platinum Elite status and a chance to earn a welcome bonus: Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

The Ivey’s Hotel

Photo courtesy of The Ivey's Hotel

In the heart of Uptown, The Ivey’s Hotel offers modern and stylish interiors just steps from city-center attractions.

Cost to book in points: The Ivey’s is part of the Stash Hotel Rewards program. The number of points you’ll need for a night varies depending on the room type and when you stay.

How to earn Stash Hotel Rewards points

You can earn Stash Hotel Rewards by booking hotel stays through the program.

The bottom line

Using miles and points to book an affordable Charlotte trip doesn’t have to be complicated. This business hub has plenty of leisure and entertainment options for the whole family, plus a major global airline operating many flights to the city and a vast array of lodging choices.

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page.

All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.

To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, see this page.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.


How to Maximize Your Rewards

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