Denver is known as the Mile High City because it's literally one mile above sea level. It's a popular tourist destination for its professional sports and as a launching point for Colorado's famed ski resorts. But there's so much more to the city, including touring the U.S. Mint, exploring the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and catching a performance at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre. The city is also a brewery hot spot with its Denver Beer Trail and guided tours of the Coors Brewery. Here's how to travel to Denver on points and miles.
Getting to Denver
The main airport is the Denver International Airport (DEN). Travelers may notice a large, blue horse statue at the entrance to the airport. It is known as "Blucifer" for its menacing stance and glowing red eyes, but its technical name is Blue Mustang. The original artist died in 2006 while creating the statue when a piece fell on him. His son completed the statue in 2008.
DEN is approximately 26 miles northeast of the downtown area. While you can drive, hail a taxi or use a rideshare service, using the local A Line train is also an option.
The train runs every 15 minutes during peak times and takes about 37 minutes from the airport to Denver Union Station. It costs $10.50 to ride the train and includes unlimited rides on the A Line for the rest of the day.
Major airlines flying to Denver
There are over 20 domestic and international airlines serving the Denver market. Denver has the fourth-largest domestic network in the U.S. Travelers can reach more than 180 destinations nonstop, including 25 international destinations in 11 countries. With so many airlines flying into this airport, there are many cheap and simple ways to get to Denver using points and miles.
Denver is a hub for these airlines:
Flying to Denver on points and miles
Here are some points and miles options to fly to Denver from a few major cities around the U.S. in spring 2021.
Round-trip from New York to Denver
Round-trip from Los Angeles to Denver
Round-trip from Dallas to Denver
Flight prices will vary throughout the year, so the best points and miles for cheap flights to Denver can change based on your travel dates. Prices can be higher during peak travel days, like holidays, spring break and summertime.
Southwest seems to offer the best flight deals from these cities to Denver at this moment. However, the deals vary based on when you're flying and where you're traveling from. Keep in mind that Southwest has regular flight sales, so you can book to secure a price, then rebook later for no fee if prices drops.
Other tips for flying to Denver
When flying to Denver, here are a few additional things to know to improve your travel experience:
Try the Westin Denver International Airport. If you have an early morning departure or late night arrival, consider staying at the on-site Westin hotel. It is only a few steps outside from the south end of Level 5, which makes it very convenient. The hotel is a Marriott Bonvoy Category 6 property, so points per night range from 36,000 (off-peak) to 50,000 (standard) to 60,000 (peak).
This Priority Pass option is closed. Priority Pass members used to be able to redeem their $28 dining credits at the Timberline Steaks & Grille in Concourse C. Unfortunately, this restaurant is no longer participating in the program at this time.
The American Express Centurion Lounge is open. The Denver Centurion Lounge is now open in Concourse C near Gate C46. The Platinum Card® from American Express and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card customers receive complimentary access to the lounge up to three hours before departure. Terms apply.
A train ride is needed between concourses. Getting to your flight (or the lounge) in Concourse B or C requires riding the train, so budget extra time so you don't miss your flight.
Hotels on points in Denver
The city offers a variety of hotel options from each of the popular brands, so using hotel points to book an affordable Denver trip is totally possible. Here are a few of our favorite hotels to book with points in Denver.
With 20+ hotels within Denver, Marriott offers a wide variety of properties at all price points. A majority of the properties are Category 4 and 5, which cost 18,000 to 30,000 points and 27,000 to 40,000 points, respectively. This means that you'll have plenty of options to redeem your annual free night certificates from Marriott credit cards. There is one Category 3 property (13,500 to 20,000 points per night) for the budget-conscious and a Category 7 (45,000 to 70,000 points) for those who prefer high end.
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa is a solid Marriott hotel choice in Denver. It has a classic elegance and a bit of history to it. Trained guides offer public and private 60-minute tours of the hotel to share its history and traditions. Plus, there are a few themed suites for a bit of whimsy. For example, there's a Beatles Suite to commemorate the Beatles' stay in 1964.
Cost to book in points: Category 5 (rooms start at 35,000 points per night for standard rates, 27,000 during off-peak nights and 40,000 during peak nights). NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cent per point. Depending on your time of travel, cash rates can be around $129 per night, so it may make sense to pay cash instead of redeeming points.
There are no resort fees at The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, but valet parking is $52 per night.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is the best credit card for an award night at this hotel. It currently offers: 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. Plus, the card includes an annual free night certificate that is valued at up to 35,000 points.
If you want Gold status but don’t want to commit to a Marriott Bonvoy-branded credit card, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, which also 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.
» Learn more: Your guide to the Marriott Bonvoy award chart
Hilton has over 30 hotels near the downtown area that range from budget-friendly to luxurious. The price to redeem points for these hotels fluctuates because Hilton uses a variable pricing model based on demand and time of year.
The Art Hotel Denver, Curio Collection by Hilton
This hotel is located in the arts district and is within a 10-minute walk of half a dozen museums. The artistic focus is noticeable from its unique exterior and the curated artwork displayed throughout the hotel.
Cost to book in points: Hilton doesn’t have a set award chart, but rooms tend to cost between 31,000 and 48,000 points per night. NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent per point. The hotel charges a mandatory daily "Urban Destination Charge" of $20 that includes premium Wi-Fi, $20 food and beverage credit, and in-room selection of two savory and sweet snacks. This fee is typically waived on award stays, which makes the value of booking with points that much more lucrative. Valet parking is $40 per night.
How to earn Hilton Honors points
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is currently offering: 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.
Additionally, it earns 12x points at Hilton and 6x on U.S. restaurant and U.S supermarket purchases. The card also includes automatic Gold status, which entitles you and a guest to complimentary continental breakfast each day of your stay. Terms apply.
If you want status or the ability to book with points but you don’t want to commit to a Hilton branded credit card, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, which also comes with automatic Hilton Gold Status (enrollment required). Those points can typically be transferred to the Hilton Honors program at a 1:2 ratio, which means 1 American Express point can be turned into 2 Hilton points. Terms apply.
While Hyatt has numerous properties to choose from in Denver, none are highly aspirational. Each of the properties is either Category 2 or 3, with free nights costing 8,000 or 12,000 points per night, respectively. If you’re looking for high-end luxury, it’s best to focus on the other brands.
Grand Hyatt Denver
The Grand Hyatt Denver is located in the heart of downtown, close to the entertainment, business and theater districts. It's just minutes away from Coors Field (Rockies) and Mile High Stadium (Broncos), so sports fans will really appreciate its location. The hotel is rated Four Diamonds by AAA. Guests with Grand Club access will enjoy complimentary breakfast in the morning and hors d'oeuvres in the evening.
Cost to book in points: As a Category 3 room, award nights are 12,000 points per night. NerdWallet values Hyatt points at 1.9 cents per point. With rooms available in spring 2021 for $107 per night, it may make more sense to pay cash than redeem points for your stay. The hotel does not charge resort fees, but self-parking is $35 per night.
How to earn Hyatt points
The World of Hyatt Credit Card is currently offering a welcome bonus of: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.
Additionally, it also earns 4x points at Hyatt and 2x points on dining, airlines, local transit and gyms. Cardholders receive automatic mid-tier Discoverist status and one free night (up to Category 4) each year.
If you'd like to earn flexible points that can be used at Hyatt, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® that transfer to Hyatt on a 1:1 basis. This card has a welcome offer of: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You'll earn 2x points on dining and travel. Plus, your points are worth 1.25 cents each when booking travel through its portal.
» Learn more: How to find cheap things to do in any city
The bottom line
Denver has a lot to offer for travelers, or you can fly there before heading to the numerous Colorado ski resorts nearby. The city is served by all of the major domestic airlines and you'll find all of the major brands here as well, so no matter what type of rewards you've earned, you can get to Denver with points and miles.
To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page.
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 2021, 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